At Colston’s we have recently developed our very own Forest School learning resource in woodland on our Upper School site. This exciting initiative has greatly benefitted all the children in our Pre-Prep as they make regular use of this ‘outdoor classroom’ to enhance their learning.
How does Forest School Learning Help the Child?
Our Forest School has allowed our children the time and space to explore and develop their natural curiosity through hands-on practical experiences. The children learn new skills, both within and beyond the National Curriculum, while building independence, co-operation and self-esteem. They are taught how to manage risk, which in turn builds self-confidence to try things out and ‘have a go’. The very nature of our outdoor activities also promotes health and fitness as part of a more active life style.
In Forest School, connections are made experimentally with the real world outside the classroom, helping to develop skills, knowledge and understanding in a meaningful context. Outdoor environments and surroundings act as a rich stimulus for creative thinking and learning. This affords opportunities for challenge, enquiry, critical thinking and reflection. The children are able to understand the relevance of a subject taught in school to everyday life. They can sometimes behave differently outdoors. Quiet children speak more, others become calmer and more focused when outside, especially in a natural space. The multi-sensory experience outdoors helps the children to retain knowledge more effectively. Learning in a less structured environment can provide a different learning experience from that of the classroom. At Forest School the children are physically active and their stamina improves as they go through their Forest School sessions. Their experience can also help to lead to the development of healthier lifestyles as they ask their parents to take them on trips to woodlands outside of school times. The children gain in confidence and improve their self-esteem and it has a positive impact on their emotional and mental well-being which is often carried into the rest of their learning.
How is Forest School used?
Since the start of our Forest School programme the Nursery, Reception classes and Year 1 have been to the woods once a week. Year 2 have been going to the woods in six week blocks and have been learning some new woodland skills. A wide variety of activities have been undertaken including making monsters in Reception, counting in Nursery, “this is my stick” and other games of imaginative learning. Also Nursery has had the opportunity to be the first group to plant in the Hilborne Garden, integrating their learning on growing, with that in the classroom. Year 2 expand their skills and learning and have been exploring the use of levers and weighing using logs and planks.