Our Forest School Ethos:
"Children have the opportunity to visit our woodland for frequent and extended periods of time. They will have the time and space to develop positive learning dispositions, skills, understanding and explore their interests through adult and child led playful experiences. Emphasis is on practical, hands-on experiences with a focus on the process rather than the product."
What is a Forest School?
Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and their capacity to develop as they play, explore and investigate in a woodland environment. The aim of Forest School is to provide a regular opportunity for children to visit a natural environment for extended periods of time. Giving children this time and space provides opportunities to be inspired and motivated to create imaginative playful experiences which aid in the development of their communication and language skills.
Children take part in achievable child-led tasks both individually and collaboratively which will help to build confidence and self-esteem, develop personal, social and emotional skills, encourage turn taking and value perseverance and resilience. Children are encouraged to be independent and use their initiative as they choose their task and persevere as they complete it. We value the child making decisions and leading each session. In Forest School we focus on the process, the skills and dispositions developed.
As they explore our woodland, the children develop physically. This includes their coordination and fine and gross motor skills as they; dig, transport, climb and mix. As children move in an unfamiliar environment they need to negotiate dips, mounds and roots. As they play, children make discoveries and learn about the natural environment making observations of the world around them as it changes throughout the seasons. As we visit in all weathers, children enjoy observing the changing weather and talking about the noise and feel of the rain as well as building shelters to protect themselves from it. Children interact with natural resources, search for insects and investigate trees and plants.
Forest School gives children opportunities to manage risks as they climb trees and use tools such as bow saws, bill hooks and loppers to complete tasks. Children are supervised as they develop an understanding of these tools, their purpose and how to use them in a safe way. Children are supervised as they develop an understanding of these tools, their purpose and how to use them in a safe way. Using these tools has given Nursery children an understanding of where wood comes from and what it can be used for. To show this we collect and collaborate to use a bow saw to cut them, we then used a bill hook to cleave the wood into small pieces. We then used this as kindling in a campfire where we cook popcorn and heated up mint tea using mint from our herb garden. Children have used sheaf knives to whittle smaller branches which were then used to toast marshmallow.
Forest School at Royal Russell has become increasingly popular with children from Nursery to Year Two visiting on a regular basis. Children in other year groups have the opportunity to visit during Summer term clubs. We are extremely fortunate to have access to our large area of woodland on site and hope these photographs show the enthusiasm and enjoyment which Forest School and the freedom of exploring this environment brings to our children.