No books, no uniform and not too many rules. For those of you wondering, I am here today to tell you what happens at forest school.
Forest school is a laid back setting out in the open surrounded by trees, earth and nature. There are of course boundaries and safety procedures to follow but our kids get to experience hands on learning whilst inhaling fresh air and being out in the elements. Forest school goes ahead whether rain or shine so preparation is key. My 6 year old attended forest school for six months and the experience gave her so much, both emotionally and physically. She became independent and interested and went from a little girl that was too shy to look her elders in the eye to cooking and socialising around a camp fire with 20 other kids.
So let’s get into this post. What happens at Forest school
Kids get dirty
That’s right, especially if the weather is poor. My hack was to keep a huge Ikea bag in the boot of my car for muddy wellies and spare waterproofs. I dressed my Daughter from head to toe in
Even in the summer be sure to expect dusty knees and dirty fingernails. We never dressed respectfully for forest school and made use of old leggings and comfy jerseys. Layers are a must in the warmer weather but with extra protection added. Long sleeved cotton tops came in handy for protecting arms and a good sturdy pair of ankle boots were a must for tree climbing and pond dipping. Always have a small backpack to
Hands on experience
Every activity is a
Learn to cook
The main hub at forest school is usually a camp fire. Logs are placed all around to enable socialisation skills and a place to sit, listen and cook. Lunch is supervised by a teacher and prepared by children themselves. My Daughter enjoyed making lots of different lunch dishes on the camp fire including pizza wraps and pancakes! A marshmallow treat always went down well too. Just grab a stick from the forest and toast away.
Children that attend forest school are taught about different trees and plants and are encouraged to experience hunts and trails. Respect is taught from the beginning and flowers, shrubs and nature are left to their own devices, rarely picked and untouched. Wildlife is explored from a distance with dignity and camp works around the natural inhabitants already on site.
Children can get emotionally connected
All children are different. Some like to run wild, some are very sensitive and like to take activities at their own pace. That is why
Children can reflect
I like to think that most children realise how delicate nature is and with nature comes a form of respect. Have you ever hugged a tree or cared for a sick animal? Forest school gives children the chance to reflect on their personalities and be themselves without being judged or monitored constantly. Kids are not confined to one particular space, therefore have a chance to remove themselves from an uncomfortable situation. Being outdoors allows creativity both in a physical and emotional form.
I also attended forest school with my Daughter when she was 6. A child has the opportunity to express their feelings when they feel safe and the bonus of an adult supporting their learning at a young age can give them the best start In life. Forest school helps our kids face their fears. What scares you about that spider? Why do you think the honey bee would sting you? And you can be with them to encourage and combat situations where your child may be experiencing worries. Being out in the open provides a confidence in later life.
Forest school is not flat, neither is it confined. There is space to use, trees to climb , logs to carry and dens to build. Physical activity is a major part of forest school and from this children go in to enjoy sports and become more confident in taking part in fitness related events. The impact from exercise contributes to mental health development and good sleep patterns.