About Forest School
Forest School first began in Scandinavia in the 1950’s as a means of helping children to learn about the natural world through stories, songs and practical experiences in an outdoor classroom. It’s value in building confidence, self-esteem and independence was quickly recognised and forest school soon spread.
Forest School encourages children to take a chance, to explore risk and to take the time to stop and reflect on their experiences, asking questions and making sense of their own thoughts and feelings in the natural world. Children gain a valuable lesson in healthy, active lifestyles through a child led approach, developing holistically, physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually in a safe, stimulating, positive and natural environment.
Forest School provides a child centred approach to learning and an opportunity for children to develop their love and understanding of the natural world. At Yaxley Infant School our school site is used for weekly sessions, and clear boundaries and agreements are established with the children.
Our Forest School Site
At Yaxley Infant School we are very lucky to have a large field and a Woodland classroom. We timetable the Woodland classroom for the whole school and the pre school next door. Over recent years we have worked hard to develop the outdoor area, with a covered area for all weathers and flower beds and bug hotels create a wildlife haven for our children (and many insects/small creatures) to enjoy.
In the woodland classroom we have also developed a small mud kitchen area, a log circle and space for a fire pit. As part of this area we have a number of different British trees, we encourage exploring and climbing safely. Our site is checked daily for risks and is looked after by our forest school leaders to ensure sustainability.
Aims of Forest School at Yaxley Infant School
- To provide children with unique experiences that encourages an appreciation, awareness and knowledge of the natural environment.
- To learn to respect and to care for their own local environment.
- To develop children’s self-esteem and self-confidence through the setting of small achievable tasks in a safe, stimulating and positive environment.
- To develop levels of confidence, independence, resilience and perseverance enabling children to achieve challenges set and to become committed and reflective learners.
- To promote real life learning and a development of life skills, where risk taking is facilitated and promoted in a controlled and purposeful environment.
- To provide a holistic and child centred environment in which children are encouraged to set their own pace and challenges, learning in the style that suits them best.
- To abide by rules (agreements) and set standards of behaviour.
- To work individually and cooperatively in groups, developing a mutual respect for each other.
Health and Safety
In Forest School children learn life skills of assessing and managing their own risks and clear boundaries and agreements (rules) are established with the children. Risk Assessments are carried out before each forest school session by the Forest School Leaders and teaching staff.
Forest School Sessions
Sessions run all year round and in all weathers (except in extreme circumstances) and include focused, planned activities that children are encouraged to participate in with the support of an adult, as well as child initiated activities using natural resources to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation. Forest School is responsive to the children's needs and interests and therefore teachers regularly adapt planning, especially if the weather dictates!
Activities may include den and shelter building, whittling using potato peelers, tree climbing, fires, exploring flora and fauna, natural collections, sawing wood to make badges, creating mud characters and pictures using natural paints as well as songs, stories and team games!
To ensure children gain the best experience from Forest School sessions, appropriate clothing must be worn. This includes;
- welly boots
- waterproof trousers/jackets
- warm clothing – layers are particularly good
- hats – for both sunny and cold weather
- long sleeved tops and trousers.
We often share photos of these exciting sessions on Tapestry for you to enjoy too.