The benefits of Forest School sessions
When we think of teaching and learning, an image of a teacher standing over pupils in a classroom springs to mind. We know however, that this is no longer the case, that over centuries, teaching methods and styles have evolved and are now a lot more interactive and learner based. Forest school sessions offer the chance to take learning out of the classroom and into the great outdoors. Children are given an opportunity to learn in a new way and within a new environment. Forest school introduces a whole new dimension to teaching and learning, with new experiences for both the children and teachers.
What are forest school sessions
Forest school sessions allows children to take risks and attempt new challenges they would not face in a classroom. There are opportunities for children to try more risky activities such as tree climbing and building fires. This adds a sense of excitement and adventure for the children, who are free to explore and manipulate the environment around them using all of their senses. The weather has no impact upon forest schools, whether it be rain or shine, snow or winds, the children will be outside making the most of the experience. This is especially fun for children who tend to be sheltered in bad weather as they are given the chance to get mucky and wet!
The environment in which forest school takes place will have been risk assessed and a high number of adults will be around to supervise and to ensure safety is paramount. A high adult: child ratio is essential in order to maintain the children’s safety, but will also help the adults to get to know children individually and to learn and understand their unique learning styles.
Forest school promotes all aspects of children’s development and can even add new benefits that learning in a classroom doesn’t offer. It also allows children to be physically active throughout the duration of their lesson, enjoying the fresh air and the new experiences the outdoors can offer. Over the course of forest schools, children’s stamina will build and children will become physically fitter, thus providing a healthier lifestyle.
What does forest school sessions offer children?
Forest school offers an excellent opportunity for play and exploration, however, practical tasks linked to the national curriculum and EYFS are designed to enhance children’s development are what drives the forest school initiative. Many of the activities within forest schools are child-led, and the activities will follow the direction in which children choose to take them. They may decide to work independently, working on developing their own problem solving skills and creativity, or they may join up with other children and work within teams. This is excellent for children’s social development, as they will learn how to collaborate within a team, and how to share their ideas and to listen to others.
As previously mentioned, forest school activities are child-led, and adults are there to support and guide the children, but not to direct their learning. This gives the chance for children to really develop their imagination and creativity when carrying out tasks. There are no limitations to forest schools and children are free to let their imaginations run wild as they attempt problem solving and exploration of their surroundings.
In terms of emotional development, a child’s confidence will grow significantly through forest schools, and this confidence can then be carried into other areas of their lives. Teachers may find that some children who struggle to work within a classroom excel within forest school, and they can take aspects of forest school back into the classroom to help support these children.
Forest schools can help to promote a healthier lifestyle for children. Technology is becoming more advanced and more available to children as time progresses, and many parents will know the difficulties of separating their children from their beloved computer games and televisions! Children who enjoy their forest school experiences may ask their parents to take them on outdoor and woodland experiences in their free time.
Overall, forest schools are a brilliant way of taking children and learning out of the classroom, and re-introducing them to the outdoors whilst helping all areas of their development. Children enjoy the freedom of directing their own learning without inhibitions and exploring and experiencing a new environment.
Check out this great book about The Outdoor Classroom in Practice