Over the last year we have introduced Forest Schools into our Foundation Stage. Forest School is a holistic approach to learning which encourages children’s individuality, creativity, resilience and independence through a range of activities and experiences in a stimulating and ever changing woodland environment. It was introduced in the UK, in the mid 1990’s, after a group of Early Years professionals from Bridgwater College, Somerset had visited a Danish Forest School. Children freely exploring their environment were seen to grow in confidence, take responsibility for their own learning and show a greater appreciation for the natural world in which they live. These practitioners were so impressed with this ethos/approach and its effect on children that they developed a ‘Forest School’ back at their own Children Centre and the College developed training for other practitioners. Since then Forest School has been rapidly developing in the UK.
Here at St. Benet’s some of the Foundation Stage staff have had training in the Forest School approach and we have taken groups of children out to explore the local woodland and experience a wide range of activities such as den building, woodland crafts, using tools and observing our environment. The children are encouraged to solve problems and work together, challenging themselves and each other to try new experiences and discover that they are capable of doing more than they might have thought! We hope to run more Forest School sessions in the summer term for our Foundation Stage children, and hopefully we will be able to roll out these sessions to children in other year groups during the next academic year.