Since the ‘take off’ of outdoor learning, there have been an increasing number of studies on the benefits of learning outside, particularly in a woodland environment. We are lucky enough to now own two forest schools at our home on Old Woking Road, which are both incredibly popular with the children!
Nearly every day a class of children is taken into our onsite Forest School, a wooded area at the edge of our playing fields, complete with tepee, log piles and open campfire space. The area is used for ‘traditional’ Forest School sessions, but the woodland is also used as an opportunity to take the classroom outside, for lessons such as English and Mathematics. This opportunity, to take academic learning outside the four walls of a classroom, allows children to think differently about their understanding of concepts and apply them to problems presented to them in the real-world environment of the Forest School.
As an even larger area, the off-site Forest School gives children the opportunity to follow windy woodland paths and explore in the trees. Eventually the site will also have a canopied base camp, where children can shelter from the weather, light a fire and enjoy the odd marshmallow or two!
The Forest School ethos consists of six main principles, and it is these that encourage and support the purest of growth. These include and explain the importance of Forest School taking place in a woodland environment where nature has been allowed to ‘run wild’, providing the children with infinite inspiration and allowing them to see the impact that they can have on the natural environment. Forest School is play based and learner centred, meaning the children are not told what they should be doing and what task they must complete, but they are given the chance to explore and create their own games. This freedom and space support their learning of skills such as creativity, independence, confidence, resilience, sharing and communication. Forest School is there to provide stimulus which promotes the development and growth of each child and their individual needs.
Examples of Forest School tasks include: mud monster faces, art patterns, natural weaving, den building, whittling, lighting fires, ‘cooking’ with natural resources (which usually turns into potion making!), searching for invertebrate and map drawing (sometimes to find the monsters that call our Forest School their home!).
Read our Forest School blog to find out more about what outdoor learning brings to the children at Greenfield. You can also view photographs of the our time in the Forest School here.