Our Forest School Leader at Grange Primary Academy is Miss Davey.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is a process that offers children opportunities, with regular hands-on learning experiences within a natural environment. These opportunities will help all learners achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem.
“Forest School is amazing!”
“I want to go to that school every day”
“Its makes me feel like I am free”
Play is an international language that all children share. All children love to play, it should not be suppressed or ignored. Through play, children will develop their abilities to:
- Build on their communication and language skills
- Improve their social skills, and build and maintain friendships
- Self risk-assess, and manage these risks whilst being able to challenge themselves
- Use their imagination creatively
- Learn what interests them
- Be independent
- Challenge themselves
- Freedom to explore their environment
During our sessions, there is lots of play opportunities that the children have access to. But we also have lots of natural resources that the children can use as they wish. We have a pile of wood that a lot of the time is used to climb on. However, in one of our sessions, they used this wood to create a ship with a bed which they were able to lay on.
During another session, the children put 2 round logs under a flat piece of wood and made a train. The younger children asked the older children to help, but was able to verbalise exactly what they wanted. This was completely child led.
Child Led Play
All play opportunities are to be child led. This gives the children control of their own learning. The Forest School Leader understands the needs of each individual child and each opportunity is planned out for their needs, however, each child will take this in their own direction. This also gives them the freedom to use their own imagination and be independent and creative with this. When we took magic potions out for the sad troll, to help free him from under the bridge, one of the children mixed in some of our magic potions with some mud, he was making the troll some food, he said the troll might be hungry and that's why he is sad. Giving the children the chance to lead their play/learning in a safe environment gives them an opportunity to be creative with their ideas and the resources provided.
Freedom of Expression
All children have the right to Freedom of Expression, this includes freedom to seek, receive and share information and ideas. It is important that children are able to see that they are right holders too. They are able to express their feelings and opinions and these are respected. Forest School provides the children with a safe place to feel free to express themselves.
“Play alone is the free expression of what is in a child's soul”
Children that are selected for Forest School will have 2 hours in our Woodland area. Here they get to feel free, explore, learn, get muddy and climb, while having the guidance, support and nurture by our fully trained Forest School Leader.
At Forest School, we believe it is important that children are allowed to climb trees, and this is incorporated into our sessions. It is a perfect play opportunity, where the children are able to independently risk-assess. It also helps improve their physical development, their concentration and patience.
Tree climbing will also raise the children’s confidence, as it will give them a huge sense of accomplishment. Also, being up high and looking down at the world, can feel very empowering. A little boy, who had never climbed a tree before noticed the blossom on trees while sitting up high, and said that how beautiful they where. He had never noticed them before.
“Look how high I am Miss Dani”
“You all look so small”
“I have never climbed a tree before, but now I know I can”
Communication and Working Together
After snow and high winds, our Forest School shelter area had been ruined, so 2 of our boys decided it needed to be fixed. They worked together, exchanging ideas. They voiced what they felt wouldn’t work and tried ideas, some worked and some didn’t. Then they decided to use some sticks to create a fence.
“Let’s use the logs to stop the tarpaulin from blowing away”
What they created together was amazing, but what was even more amazing was that these boys were pleased with what they created together. They then asked if we could all get in to see if we could all fit in, and we could.