I am delighted to be setting up Forest School here at Woolpit Academy. There is a small wooded area onsite that we will hold forest school sessions in throughout the week.This will be our base camp where we have conversations round the fire circle, cook and play together to strengthen the community feeling of each class. As well as being able to use the massive field for wide games, exploration and nature connection. Plus we are lucky to be surrounded by fabulous countryside where we can walk, talk, play and discover more natural wonders.
I love spending time outdoors and noticing all the changes around us as we move through the seasons. Outside space is full of life, magic, awe inspiring wonder and imagination. The natural world is a rich learning environment and so beneficial to your health and wellbeing to regularly spend time in it.
Did you know that anxiety levels are reduced after spending just 20mins outside? Microbes in the soil are being released as we walk, run and play outside which we breathe in & they are great for our immune systems. It's a symbiotic relationship. We need nature and nature needs us to learn about it, respect it and protect it.
The heart of Forest School is all about the freedom to learn through play; giving time to be immersed in nature which sparks curiosity and inspiration. Allowing the child to experience risk, reward and recovery. Play builds the human and is a human instinct from the very beginning, to play.
The offering of Forest School within Woolpit Primary Academy supports the core values of the school Nurture, Resilience, Inspiration and Respect
Forest School ethos has six principles:
Long term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment. Planning, adaptations, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
Takes place in a natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world. Nature connection.
Promotes holistic development. Fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Offers the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and themselves.
Always run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Learner led process to create a community for development and learning.
Children will be outside in all weathers with a regular group in the natural world for them to engage in and experience first-hand, inspirational yet challenging learning opportunities.
Children will lead their learning through self-directed play and exploration.
Forest school offers children the opportunity to develop their self-esteem, confidence, innate curiosities, creativity, empathy, communication skills and independence.
They have space to make sense of their world, their place and impact in it and have the ability to assess risks for themselves.
Some of the activities may include
• Wildlife conservation
• Den building
• Tool use
• Natural crafts
• Physical play and wide games
• Fires and cooking
• Songs and story telling
• Environment protection and management
“Loose parts (natural materials) liberate the imagination and creativity of the playing children and allow them to master the world around them in ever-changing ways and communicate more effectively through their playing.” Alliance for Childhood 2009, The Playwork Primer by Penny Wilson.
Forest School supports the seven principles of play. The free play that children need to grow and develop in a space where they are in control and they choose what it is they want to do and how they want to do it.
The woodland environment is also ideal for supporting independence and gives them a chance to step outside their comfort zone. The children are able to work and play far further from and often out of sight of adults than in traditional school environments. With the constant change of seasons, forest school enables a natural ever changing environment within the woodland which stimulates new and different play amongst the children. Autumn leaves falling on the floor can create fish in the sea for example or a found frog hibernating may stimulate a game of leapfrog.
By giving children the freedom and the space of a Forest school setting it gives them autonomy. They are in charge of what they want to do and with this they demonstrate a respect for the environment and each other. A driving principle of forest school is to support the development of the whole child with a holistic approach.
“Scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10-20 repetitions” Dr Karyn Purvis from the institute of Child Development College of Science & Engineering
Thank you for spending the time to read all about Forest School and the benefits it can bring to your children.
Joy & Growth