A guest blog from Louise King at The Old Station Nursery, Henley.
Last week I spent a week away in the woods near Sandhurst for my Forest School training, where I learnt the importance of Forest School in children’s learning and development. It also led me to further understand how children use their imagination and how the skills learnt will help children develop their social skills, for when they become young adults. Forest School provides excellent opportunities to support the children’s social development, communication skills and also physical development throughout.
As the Worcestershire Forest School project team writes:
‘The Forest School initiative originated in Scandinavia and has been rapidly developing inEnglandandWalesover the last 4 years. One of the reasons for this enthusiasm is that forest schools have the same basic underlying principles adopted from the Scandinavian model. A qualified forest school leader devises a program of learning that is based on the children’s interests and that allows the children to build on skills from week to week, at their own pace. They provide a safe woodland environment for the children to explore, embedded in routine that is established early within the program.
What makes Forest School unique is its emphasis on learning outside of the traditional classroom and having the freedom to explore the ever changing environment, to take risks and “assess risk for themselves” (Lindon 1999, p11). Weaver (1998) suggests “The children learn informally about nature through being out in the woods” (p14). For some, like parents in Denmark (cited by Weaver) being outside seems more natural than the classroom and ‘touches something deep’ within the children. Gooding argues that all aspects of the curriculum can be taught outside, stimulating the imagination and bringing subjects to life in a real context. Indeed in such a way as to stimulate all their senses and building firm foundations for further learning.’
On my course we were taught how to use different tools, so that I will be able to teach these skills to the children. We were also shown how to build and use fires correctly and safely so that we can pass this understanding on to the appropriately aged children. So far at Henley in our Forest School with Nicole, we have had a fire with the children as a special treat, although we regularly use the Killy Kettle to heat water for our hot chocolate.
Over the next few months I will be developing my knowledge and skills, so that once I am fully qualified, I will be able to carry out all of the activities. I return to the training school in 6 months’ time for a further week of training and assessment and I am very eager to continue building on what I have already learnt. We will be posting regular photos of our Forest School activities on our company Facebook Page (The Old Station Nursery Group), so do have a look at what we get up to. If you want to find out more about Forest School in general then have a look at http://www.forestschools.com.