Forest School is a way of learning which brings together children’s innate curiosity and sense of exploration and adventure in a natural, outdoor setting.
Forest School encourages children to learn through play, exploration, imagination and hands-on experiences. As Forest School Leader, Clare gets to know the children, establishes group rapport and communication, sets boundaries to ensure children remain safe, and offers activities to spark a sense of adventure, curiosity, play, experimentation and imagination in the natural, woodland environment.
Alongside lots of free play, Forest School offers group games, nature identification, woodland crafting, woodland collections, stories and imaginative games, along with the use of simple tools, fire lighting and outdoor cooking.
Such activities provide opportunities for growth, learning and expansion beyond children’s usual comfort zones, which brings great potential for increased self confidence, self esteem, new skills as well as many transferable benefits to their wider social, emotional and academic learning and development.
Principles of Forest School
Forest Schools everywhere are built upon these 6 key principles which combine to create a holistic experience for children’s learning and development.
- Spending time in an outdoor, natural environment such as woodland or beach.
- Children are supported to manage their own risks as they develop new skills and overcome challenges. The Forest School Leader conducts comprehensive Risk Benefit Assessments for all activities and ensures all participants receive necessary information and guidance.
- Forest School is a long term process. Rather than a one off trip to the woods, the Forest School ethos values learning which takes place in one setting over a long period of time. Through exploring the same area week after week, children grow in confidence and understanding of both the intricacies and features of the particular woodland, and their interactions within it. They also get to see it changing through the seasons. Watching children grow in confidence and knowledge of the area is a beautiful part of the Family Forest School experience and promotes a sense of care, understanding and connection with nature much more than a one-off visit.
- Learning is Child-led. Rather than structured activities in which children must partake,
Forest School offers an alternative; children are encouraged to explore and take the
lead in their own learning. Such child-led learning fosters a sense of independence, confidence and personal direction and capability and has many benefits to their overall learning, happiness and development.
- Forest School promotes holistic development. Forest School activities seek to bring benefit, growth and exploration to children physcially, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually. Rather than a narrow, pre-defined curriculum, Forest School supports children to develop all aspects of themselves and to explore their connections with others and the natural world.
- Forest School is facilitated by a qualified practitioner who continuously maintains and develops their professional practice. Clare is a qualified Level 3 Practitioner, having trained with Cumbria-based Kindling Playwork & Training.
Family Forest School
Beautiful Beginnings operates as a Family Forest School where children attend sessions accompanied by their parents or carers.
We believe that connected, nurturing family relationships are what children and parents need most to support all future learning, growth and development. Modern life means many families are under physical, emotional, mental and financial stress. Long working hours and the digitalculture add to the disconnect and inactivity our children are experiencing, meaning that for many families getting outside together doesn’t happen as often or as easily as we’d like it to.
The benefits of having parents present means children feel physically and emotionally safe to be
themselves, to explore and to widen their comfort zones, knowing that their parent/s are there should they need connection or reassurance.
Similarly this family ethos means that Forest School is accessible to the very youngest babies and toddles who can enjoy the fresh air and movement of the leaves and branches from the closeness of their parent’s arms. We welcome bringing babies and toddlers to Forest School along with their siblings so they can enjoy the experiences of nature and being outdoors and parents.
You can keep up to date with the Forest School adventures over on our Beautiful Beginnings Forest School Everyday Facebook page and in our gallery below.
Forest School is a unique and inspirational learning experience whereby children are supported to learn through play, creativity, skills building and exploration in an outdoor environment. You can find out more about this inspirational way of learning from the Forest School Association.