Forest Schools are a type of outdoor education in which children visit forests/woodlands, learning personal, social and technical skills. It has been defined as ‘an inspirational process that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment.’
A forest school uses the woods and forests as a means to build independence and self-esteem in children.Topics include the natural environment, for example the role of trees in society, the complex ecosystem, recognition of specific plants and animals.
Personal skills such as teamwork and problem solving are also learnt. The woodland environment can also be used to learn about mathematics and communication. We made a bid to the John Lyon’s Charity for £18,000 to begin to implement Forest Schools within Holly Park.
Holly Park was successful in the bid to implement Forest Schools and now we have our own in-house Forest Leader – Sharon Casey.
She has been teaching at Holly Park for 15 years in the Early Years and Key Stage One. She grew up in New Zealand and enjoys being in the outdoors. She trained with Down the Woods and worked alongside a Forest School Leader during her training.
“Forest School is a wonderful opportunity for children. The children are stimulated by the outdoors and typically experience an increase in their self belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication and problem solving skills and emotional well being, said Ms Casey
“The children at Holly Park have had opportunities to use a variety of tools including rubber mallets, palm drills and peelers. They have worked as a team or individually creating art, carrying out maths investigations and problem solving. They have been involved in games and taken part in drama.
“They have learnt about the trees and wildlife in the local woods and the history of Coppetts Wood. The children have also had the freedom to explore and develop their play and learning in their own time, she said.
Here is a comment made by a year 3 parent about the benefit of Forest Schools:
“I very much believe that Forest School has increased my son’s self-belief, confidence and learning capacity. Each Monday he is excited to go to school because of the afternoon with the Forest School. Participating in practical activities and being able to carry out small achievable tasks has increased my son’s confidence as a learner – so pleased that he had a chance to benefit from Forest School. The sense of achievement that my son has after each Monday is priceless. My son is eager to learn more after attending Forest School as what he learnt there gives him a good base for further learning. Every week my son excitedly shares what he has learnt that day at Forest School. The benefits of the Forest School stretch far beyond the session. Seeing the impact the Forest School has had on my son, I wish every child had a chance to experience it.”
A group from Year 4 enjoyed making dens in Coppetts Wood.
Willow Class went to Coppetts Wood and made animal houses.
Here are some of the children toasting marshmallows at Forest School.
Here are some lovely pictures taken of Year 1 on Forest School by one of our parents.
This is what Poplar Class think about Forest School:
‘I enjoyed making a hedgehog out of clay‘ Lam Y2
‘It was fun making a necklace out of sticks’ Zaara Y2
‘I liked walking around the forest and learning the names of different trees‘ Marc Y2
‘I liked making stick houses with my friend’ Justyn Y2
‘I enjoyed climbing the trees‘ Lilly-Ella Y2
You can learn more about Forest Schools here.