“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children and young people opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self esteem, through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.” National definition: by Forest School (England) Network.
Throughout the year at Rosemary Lane Nursery School we enjoy teaching the children a little more about nature and the natural environment, building upon their own experiences and knowledge. As a Nursery we are very passionate about the outdoors and we are always out in the garden with the children no matter what the weather. However to introduce the children to the ‘real’ outdoors we decided to venture further afield, to a more natural environment which has been untouched and is closer to the true outdoors. To be able to safely support the children’s learning outdoors we have staff who are trained in delivering forest school lessons and who are enthusiastic about playing and exploring outdoors in any weather. Forest school is a Danish concept that relies on learning by experience. Forest school leaders provide children with a good environment in which to learn and achieve, helping them to build their self-esteem, social skills and independence.
The ethos of Forest School allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands-on experiences. Each programme is tailored to meet the needs of the individuals in the group. The leader takes account of children’s stage of development and their interests, to promote a sense of ownership in the Forest school. Forest school activities develop practical and intellectual skills which can be clearly linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage. Each session we run follows a routine which develops over time as the children become more familiar with the area and woodland activities.
To be able to offer the children the opportunity to access the right area we have worked in partnership with Easington Colliery Primary School using the small wooded area which lies along the boundary of their school playing field. For the Nursery children this area seems huge and very magical with its long grasses, tall trees and roaming undergrowth.
The new environment with uneven terrain offers a challenge to all children but this only encourages teamwork and cooperation and gives the children confidence in their own abilities. We encourage the children to take safe, calculated risks and have fun whilst still respecting the outdoors. They particularly enjoy climbing over tree trunks and sliding down steep muddy banks negotiating new and old trees along the way. Playing new outdoor games and using found materials to make dens, houses for little creatures and imaginative fairy castles.
The outdoor environment offers so many opportunities for teaching the children about the elements of wind, water, earth and fire. There is no better way of finding out than first hand experiences; experiencing the rain falling onto the tree tops, feeling it trickling off the branches onto your face and listening to its pitter patter on the roof of the den you have made to shelter in. The outdoors is a very magical place to be when experienced in a positive way.