Pupils in the Foundation Stage are given the opportunity to attend six sessions of Forest School in both the Nursery and Reception years.
The sessions take place at Shortenills Outdoor Activity Centre during the Summer Term. Forest School is an ‘inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’ (Forest School England 2004).
Forest School helps all involved to appreciate and understand the natural environment and its sustainability. The process builds on an individual’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning. It offers a child-centred approach where participants make choices for themselves and initiate learning. They are given the opportunity to take risks and take responsibility. It has a holistic approach to learning where learning and development across all areas of the curriculum are met.
Pupils enjoy engaging in a range of different activities. Activities completed in the Nursery are built on when the children attend Forest School in Reception. Both Nursery and Reception children learn the rules for Forest School. In particular, they need to learn to respect the boundary and follow the rules around the fire circle. Children learn to use tools safely, for example, using a potato peeler to whittle carrots in the nursery and secateurs to cut elderwood, in Reception. The children hammer a tent peg through the elderwood to make hollow beads that they thread to make a necklace. The children also use magnifiers and hand drills in various tasks. Den making is a favourite activity! Children build a shelter where their toy animal has to be able to keep warm, dry and unable to be seen by ‘predators’. The final session sees the children toasting marshmallows over the fire in Nursery and popping Popcorn in sieves for the Reception children.
The children always look forward to their sessions at Forest School and they learn a wide range of skills from their time there.