What is Forest Schools?
Forest Schools is rooted in the ethos of motivating people to learn holistically by engaging with nature over an extended period of time. Participants are inspired and motivated by the woodland environment and learn how to assess risk, experience and deal with a healthy range of emotions, work independently and co-operativelay and also learn many life skills. Most importantly, Forest Schools programmes are fun!
Participants may learn a variety of practical skills, such as fire lighting, tool use and shelter building. They are then encouraged to use these skills in meaningful contexts. Combined with learning about the forest, social skills and independence, the potential for growth, development and exciting projects at Forest School is HUGE!
Forest School practitioners are highly trained individuals who provide safe sites where children and adults can explore freely and push the boundaries of learning. Practitioners provide carefully designed programmes, which are progressive, cater for different learning styles and above all are flexible enough to allow the learners to take ownership of their learning. Risk assessment is a key skill of all practitioners and they will use it as a tool to enhance rather than prohibit learning..
Play is also an important part of Forest Schools. There are always opportunities for both structured and free play ... Yes even for adults!
Forest Schools and the Curriculum for excellence.
In Scotland we use the Curriculum for Excellence as a framework for learning. The nature of our curriculum is very holistic and Forest Schools fits perfectly into and across all areas. Children at Forest Schools are given appropriate challenges which allow them to become confident individuals, effective contributors, responsible citizens and successful learners.
All Forest Schools activities are delivered in a way that makes them open ended and accessible to all learners. Forest Schools practitioners are very up to speed on children's learning and can recognise the different opportunities for learning in different activities. In shelter building, of example, the following opportunities arise:
- Maths - selection of sticks, size, straightness, angles, sorting, use of mathematical language.
- Language - communication with team members, articulation of tasks, appropriate language for the task.
- Health and well being- development of fine and gross Motor skills, teamwork, emotional intelligence.
- RME - awe and wonder
- Environmental studies and technology - use and properties of materials, appreciation of nomadic cultures, glance and tipping points
The list goes on, and this is a mere snapshot, but gives an indication of the enormity of the potential learning!
In order to run Forest Schools, you must train as a Level 3 Forest Schools Practitioner. You can also train as an Assistant Practitioner (Level 2) so as to assist meaningfully and allow for an increase in children to adult ratios, or as a Level 1' which is a more basic qualification, but a good starting point..
All our Forest Schools Courses are run by Karen Yearsley, an associate trainer for Archimedes training..