For many years, we have incorporated Forest School into our provision at St Nics'
and we find that it brings an extra dimension to our vision of living
“life in all its fullness” John 10:10.
Through a love of learning,
Forest School teaches children practical outdoor skills such as safe tool use, plant identification and safe fire lighting, but also provides opportunities for them to develop, apply and embed skills from the classroom such as measuring, close observation, building and strengthening structures, understanding seasonal changes and the properties of materials, animal habitats and creative arts.
By having a sense of unity,
Forest School sessions allow for children to choose whether they would like space to spend time by themselves or to approach activities collaboratively. We begin and end each session sitting around the fire circle, sharing our observations and experiences, learning from each other and celebrating the effort and achievements of individuals and the group as a whole.
Understanding right and wrong,
We begin our sessions by setting or recapping the safety rules of Forest School. This is always approached in a way that prompts children to think through and discuss why the rules exist and what may happen if we don't all follow them. We find that this approach means that children understand and respect the rules and therefore stay safe even when sharp tools and fire are used in the session. As a result, we can introduce elements such as fire when the children have shown that they have the self-control to behave safely and can be trusted. This may take longer for some groups than others, but is an important milestone in the children's Forest School learning and personal development and ensures high standards of safety are upheld by all.
Being able to persevere through life’s challenges
Forest School presents children with many opportunites to try new skills, face new challenges and grow personally. While the children generally relish these experiences, some find this daunting and need more support and encouragement to step out of their comfort zone. We find that this is more often the case with children who generally find academic activities comfortable and are not used to having to strive to succeed in their learning. This means that Forest School can be a place where the tables are turned and more academically able children are supported in their learning by those who find classroom tasks more challenging. The resulting personal development for both is a delight to watch and the self-esteem boost and sense of achievement is always clearly evident.
With dignity and respect for ourselves and others
Our school culture of dignity and respect runs through all we do and that is no less the case in Forest School. In these sessions, it is often demonstrated in the way children respect the differing abilities and skill levels of their peers and support each other in their learning. They frequently encourage each other to persevere when attempting difficult tasks and celebrate each others' successes. Every child is welcome in Forest School and we ensure that children who need more support are given all they need to enjoy and succeed.
And with hope for the future and all that it brings.
One of the main aims of Forest School is to spark an interest in and love for the natural world. Spending time outdoors in all weathers builds an appreciation and understanding of the seasons and shows children that nature can be enjoyed throughout the year. We nourish this love of Creation with activities which intertwine with our Eco Schools work, such as planting trees, creating a wildlife hedge, building a bug hotel and establishing a wildflower meadow in our grounds. Whenever they are in the playground or enter and leave school, the children can see the effect they have had on their school environment and the ways that their actions have enhanced habitats for wildlife as well as areas for our school community to enjoy.
We believe that if we can foster a love and enjoyment of nature in our children, they can grow up into adults who will care for our world because they truly appreciate it and want to protect this wonderful gift God has given us and this gives us great hope for the future.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength." Psalm 23:1-3