During these sessions in the woods, we aim to inspire, motivate and encourage children of any age to be active in their own learning throughout the different seasons. Each season has its demands on the children and this allows them the opportunity to work on their own independent skills. It is through mastery of small and achievable tasks, which are a mixture of adult and child led, in a woodland environment that allow the children to grow in confidence and independence, so that they are able to develop a sense of self-worth.
Experience has shown Forest School to be inspirational, opinion changing and challenging. It raises expectations and develops insights into individual learning styles and schemas.
At Thorngrove, we are very fortunate to be able to operate our Forest School within our own woods. We even have a stream that runs through the site that the children love to explore and catch crayfish in. Within the woodland setting we have various bases that the children can utilise and explore. The main focus for adult-led activities are within our weatherproof bothy, this is known as ‘Base Camp’. The base camp was cleared in one of the drier parts of the woods which enables us to go outside even when the rest of the wood is very boggy! The children learn to develop an ethos of ‘No such thing as bad weather, only poor choice of clothing!’, allowing them the opportunity to gauge how many layers they may need to wear when coming to a woods session.
Across the seasons, children will be able to take part in a wide range of activities including: observing the seasonal changes, lighting fires, building shelters, leaping into puddles, collecting twigs to turn into art projects, exploration of habitats, identifying minibeasts, tying knots and lashings and not to mention whittling and knife skills. Forest School imparts a sense of wonderment and awe to children, and offers active and direct learning experiences that are child-initiated.
Unlike other forms of outdoor education, which generally concentrate on team-building, challenging activities or competitiveness, the Forest School ethos within the sessions embraces a different approach. This ethos focuses on the nurturing, support and development of the individual’s self-esteem, as they initiate their own learning and set their own goals.
By spending regular time in the woods children become appreciative of the world around them and develop an awareness of the fragile world that we live in. It is personally and socially uplifting and lays the essential foundations for other learning.
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