Adventures in Nature
Children climbing high up a tree, playing out of sight of adults, cooking over an open fire and whittling with sharp knives are all common sights at a forest school, but which to outside observers, can appear dangerous. The Oxford Dictionary definition of risk is ‘the possibility of something bad happening at some time in the future, a situation that could be dangerous or have a bad result’. How then, you may ask, did risk come to form a fundamental part of forest school as one of its six core principles?
You may have heard it said that forest school can’t be single session, that a forest school should be a long term programme over weeks. But why does this matter? There are many types of outdoor learning that can be experienced as a one-off session such as environmental education, field studies or bushcraft, for example and they all provide a great learning experience for children. In fact, all these approaches share the type of activities that children enjoy at forest school session, such as lighting a fire, building a den or woodland crafts. However, the real magic of forest school happens when the sessions are regular, ideally at least every week, for an extended period of time and if possible, take place in the same woodland across months or even seasons.
One of the guiding principles at forest school is that play is child-led, but what does this mean, why is it important and what is the role of the adults, if children are leading the way?
Child-led play, meaning children are free to choose how they play, what they play and when they stop and play something else, rather than directed by an adult, is the key to real play and is essential for children to develop and learn at a natural pace. Adults have an important role in providing boundaries and resources, but the child takes the lead, discovering, inventing and exploring, while adults watch and wait, taking cues from the children. (more…)
After running forest schools for nearly 10 years, we find ourselves answering some questions many times, so in our new series of blogs we plan to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and shed some light on the questions that never go away, starting with the weather.
So what DO we do when it rains at forest school? This is a question we often get asked and running projects in Yorkshire, its unavoidable that it will happen. Our projects are all outdoors taking place in public woodlands with no indoor venue to escape to. So the simple answer is that everyone gets a bit wet and muddy. For most people, this is fine – it can be great in fact, but for some this is a bit of a surprise! If school instigates indoor playtime if its raining or parents insist that you’ll catch a cold if you get wet, children can start to believe that there is something inherently wrong with rain. (more…)
“Autumn carries more gold in its pockets than all the other seasons.” Jim Bishop
We’ve been making the most of some beautiful autumn days with bright sunshine and beautiful autumn colours at our Forest School Play Project with Better Start Bradford. Our three new nurseries started their sessions at the end of September and have seen the children enjoying throwing and playing in the leaves, playing games of hide and seek, balancing along the trunks of fallen trees, making natural artwork and exploring the woodland. (more…)