Forest School is MORe than just outdoor learning/education.
Learning skills in woods is hardly a new concept – you can imagine human prehistory parents and elders teaching children how to light a fire, erect shelters and seek out wild foods.
As human society moved on we have become more industrialised and less connected with nature. Learning has become a science with learning theories on how we learn and develop. Less learning occurs at home with the state stepping in to shoulder the burden of learning the knowledge and skills we now need to survive in a modern world. This disconnect or longing combined with modern teaching practices could be seen as the parents of forest school.
One key conception was when a group of nursery staff near Taunton went to Denmark to immerse themselves in open air culture ‘Frulitsliv’. They saw children learning via their own creativity and ideas with appropriate help (scaffolding) when they needed it. It had an impact and when they got home they created their own ‘forest school’ in the early 90’s.
Since then the forest school community formed a network and agreed it has these key features:
· It is run by level 3 practitioners in effect a forest school leader
· It is a long term process (preferably over seasons) with regular contact with a local wooded environment
· It follows child led pedagogy where children learn about and manage risk
· It has a high adult:child ratio
· Observations of learners are key to enable scaffolding of the learner
· Care for the natural world is integrated
They were then developed further into principles for good practice. To find out more visit the Forest School Association website.
As a forest school practitioners we lead on these five points:
What are you trying your children to get out of forest school? Examples might be team building, greater confidence, social interaction, conservation, skills, hand eye coordination, curriculum objectives; the list goes on and on.
In a nut shell competent and skilful teaching but beyond the classroom and curriculum. A pedagogue focuses more on life skills but the term is often interchangeable with teacher.
The practitioner draws on their skills to pass on and learns new things. As a minimum it includes practical knowledge and ability, tools, fires, Risk Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments, applying educational theories including scaffolding, multiple intelligences,etc., Health and Safety, woodland management and practical skills.
Using the setting in context. Certain woods favour certain activities. An unmanaged wood might needs some conservation work so be a great setting to learn new skills whereas a mature forest with little understory could be great for run and hide games. Most woods overlap in character and change from one area to another and as the seasons change.
Design on programme planning, delivery, observation, recording and evaluation process bearing in mind the other 4 points.
All points are supported by professional training - continuing development and quality assurance such as peer observations and feedback.
Find out what we do.
Look at our gallery!