Forest School

ForestSchool@Barnehurst

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Intent

 

Here at The Barnehurst Federation of Schools the intent of our Forest School is designed to inspire a love of living with nature to all our children. From Nursery to Year 6 our children experience a wide range of opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem by visiting the forest school sites regularly.

We are extremely fortunate at Barnehurst to have two areas of Woodland to use as our Forest School – one for exploration, development  and enjoyment of the great outdoors aimed primarily at EYFS/KS1 and a second enhancing the knowledge gained in early years and moving on to focus more on nature, the environment and continuing to develop environmental skills. Our forest school is lead by 2 forest school leaders with a passion for the great outdoors.

The ethos of Forest School aims to provide a safe and secure but also a challenging environment allowing children to take risks, learn about themselves and their relationships with others and creating a well-rounded child whatever their ability, background or beliefs.

                        

 

 

 

Through forest school our children are able to lead activities, collaborate and support each other. Children play games that rely on non-verbal communication or set challenges for each other to complete. Children are able to work in pairs and teams to complete tasks to develop co-operation and collaboration.

Children are provided with opportunities to develop fine motor skills such as craft activities, knots and whittling as well as gross motor skills such as tree climbing and den building. Children are encouraged to share experiences of their encounters of nature and they provide a variety of activities to promote their learning and mastering of new skills. Alongside our values of courage and resilience, children are set challenging but achievable activities and goals to develop personal satisfaction in achievements.                                                      

Children are encouraged to express their individual points of view and beliefs and they are taught to appreciate each other as individuals. Children learn about our sustainable world and how to ensure our environment is protected for tomorrow.  

In addition to our Barnehurst School values, SMSC is promoted throughout Forest School in a variety of ways. 

Social

  • Children are encouraged to lead activities and to support each other.
  • Children play games that rely on non-verbal communication or we set challenges for children to complete without speaking.
  • Mix groups when possible to experience communicating with other of different ages, abilities and backgrounds.
  • Children to work in pairs and teams to complete tasks to develop co-operation.

Physical

  • We provide opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills such as craft activities, knots and whittling.
  • We provide opportunities for children to develop gross motor skills such as tree climbing and den building.

Intellectual

  • We share knowledge and experiences with our children
  • We encourage them to share experiences of their encounters of nature
  • We provide a variety of activities to promote their learning and mastering new skills
  • We build on prior knowledge developed in the classroom

Character

  • We set challenging but achievable activities and goals to develop personal satisfaction in achievements
  • Child led activities that allow learners to take ownership of the sessions and will help develop satisfaction and enrichment

Emotional

  • Use reflective activities at the end of the session that encourage wellbeing
  • Where possible and appropriate try to avoid interfering in conflict between children to give them the opportunity to develop conflict management skills

Spiritual

  • Encourage children to express their individual points of view and beliefs
  • Place children in different groups to give them experience of communicating and working with others of different backgrounds, religions and beliefs

 

Implementation

 

The concept of forest school was implemented in Sweden in 1950’s and was developed through Scandinavian and European countries. Forest school first came to the UK in 1990s starting in Nursery settings. At Barnehurst we are privileged to offer our children Forest School sessions from Nursery to Year 6.

Benefits of Forest School

These include:

  • Building confidence and independence.                                                                                                                                               
  • Feeling empathy for others and nature.
  • Physical fitness.
  • Health benefits
  • Improved mental health
  • Learning by experience
  • Exposure to manageable risk
  • Resulting in better sleep and mood

 

Visiting the Forest

    

In EYFS and KS1 the ethos of Forest school is to learn by exploring and for children to manage their own risks when visiting the forest. In KS2 the children move on to more structured activities and to have a deeper understanding of nature.                        

Each session will start with ‘base camp’. Here children will go over the Forest School rules. In EYS and KS1 we discuss why we have the rules. Depending on the weather we may add extra rules to enhance safety.

The activity of the day is then explained to the children. In EYS/KS1 the activity is optional while in KS2 the children are expected to complete the task before free time.

When children first visit Forest School they are encouraged to explore the environment. Some choose to do this with friends, some want an adult while others do it on own their own.

Adults in Forest School are there to support the children. They will encourage the children to think and act independently by asking open ended questions. Adults are also there for the children’s safety and will stop anything that is unsafe – discussing with the child the impact of what they were doing.

All sessions end with base camp where the children have time to reflect.

 

 

 

Progression in Forest school

As our children participate in Forest school sessions over their time Barnehurst, we reflected on our offer in order to make it progressive for our children. We have identified four Key