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Forest School is Underway

28th September 2012

  The Reception children at Wandsworth have been settling into their Forest School site, learning what a boundary is and how to mark out the boundary with ribbons so that they can explore the grounds safely. They have been hunting for treasure. On Monday we collected hundreds of conkers which we brought back to school and used for counting, sorting, making patterns and craft work. It seemed like a good idea to make something out of the conkers. We found a book in the library called ‘Find it Make it’ and inside there were some interesting designs and ideas for making things out of natural materials. The children enjoyed using the power drill and various other tools and art materials to manipulate and decorate their conker models. What is Forest School? Forest Schools originated in Europe in the early 20th century as a way of teaching children about the natural world, particularly woodlands, which benefit our environment and provide a great setting for education and recreation. Forest Education aims to increase the understanding and appreciation, particularly among young people, of the environmental, social, and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests. It 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. As well as teaching associated skills, Forest Schools offer the opportunity to help deliver and complement many aspects of the school curriculum through a medium of outdoor play and discovery, providing a variety of opportunities for learning, particularly for those who do not do as well in the school classroom setting. What do they say about Forest School? An evaluation of two Forest School projects by the New Economics Foundation highlighted how they can increase young people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The evaluation also added: “The Forest School setting is adaptable and allows for a flexible approach to learning, which can accommodate a range of learning styles. Learning styles are the different ways in which children best absorb and process information. Some of them are: • Kinaesthetic (learning by doing) • Auditory • Visual Forest School is an approach that can allow leaders to shape teaching methods to an individual’s learning style. Research in America (Taylor et al., 1998; Fjortoft, 2004) has found that children who play in natural environments undertake more diverse, creative and imaginative play, forming an important part of a child’s development.” The report also states: “Forest School benefits many children and should be used on a wider basis as a vital part of children’s outdoor learning experience, and to provide many more children with the opportunity to experience this as part of their overall education.”