Forest School

“Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment.”
(Jenner, 2004 and Murray & O’Brien 2006)

We have an amazing, enriched environment around us and the nursery site as a whole. No matter what the weather, the outdoors is a great place to be. It is an ever-changing space, always with something new to explore and investigate.

We will have at least 2 sessions each week for Forest School. We may rotate the time of the session in the week allowing more of the children over time to be involved. We welcome parents to join us on the weeks that your child is involved in these sessions; please let us know if you would like to come along.

Forest School activities will teach the children about caring for, managing and understanding the woodland environment.
The focus for this is to use the natural resources all around us – noticing the changes in the seasons, using the materials we find to be creative and feed our imaginations.

Possible activities:

  • Mud painting
  • Collecting 'things'
  • Listening to sounds around us
  • Tree climbing
  • Making dens/teepees
  • Planting and growing
  • Orienteering
  • Hide and seek games

These features are deemed to be highly important as they: enable contact with the natural environment (an ever decreasing experience for many children in today’s society); encourage and support children in taking sensible risks; allow for individualised learning; enable children to develop their own learning styles; develop children’s motivation and positive attitudes to learning and provide time for children to grow in confidence with themselves, their peers and the environment.

Experience in other settings has shown Forest School to be inspirational, opinion-changing and challenging. It raises expectations and develops insights into individual learning styles and schemas.

Here at First Steps we have the provision of Forest School sessions to support your child's learning. Forest School is the name for an approach to educating children in the outdoors environment on a regular basis. Work will support the main curriculum (EYFS) and will have a strong emphasis on raising all children's self-esteem and independence. An integral part of the Forest School experience is that children will experience the outdoors in all weathers. With the exception of very high winds and thunderstorms, please assume that your child will be outside when he/she takes part in forest school, even if it is for a shortened session.

When working with the children during Forest School sessions we will:

  • Encourage the children to do things for themselves e.g. putting on clothes, climbing the slopes and holding back branches
  • Talk and listen to the children as much as possible
  • Give help and encouragement whenever needed e.g. a more timid child may need support when playing hide and seek for the first time
  • Encourage the children to help each other, share and to solve problems together. Give praise.
  • Encourage the children to reflect on how they have changed e.g. how they can now walk along a log by themselves
  • Encourage children to enjoy but also to look after themselves
  • Point out features, insects, plants, weather, sounds etc. that they may not have noticed.
  • Take opportunities to reinforce safety routines e.g. stepping over the log at the log circle, stop at the marked boundaries.
  • Have fun and enjoy themselves!

Staffing

Forest School sessions will be supported by a member of staff that has attended Forest School Practice training.
There will be at least one member of staff First Aid qualified.

Ratios

The adult: child ratios for Forest Schools in Nursery will be 1:3. Certain activities will require a higher ratio of adults to children. This will be indicated on the session risk assessment. Where children are receiving specific or additional support for individual needs 1:1 support will be incorporated if necessary.

Toileting Forest Children

The children will use an identified area to toilet.  When we leave the Forest the area will be rinsed.  Excrement will be bagged and disposed of appropriately.

Insurance

The nursery is insured with Morton Michel, and the Forest School is included on the policy. Please see our policy schedule displayed in the cloakroom area.

In case of injury

There is a first aid kit included in the Forest School equipment for minor injuries incurred.  At least one member of the team will be first aid qualified.

For major incidents, nursery will be contacted for a staff member to join the group for support  and where necessary the emergency services will be called.  The nursery mobile telephone will be included in the equipment.

The injured child/adult will remain with 2 members of staff until the emergency services arrive.  The remaining children and staff will return to the nursery  

Session time

In Nursery each Forest School session last for just under 2 hours. We will have a minimum of 2 sessions per week
During this time the groups always have a drink and snack.

Transport

As our Forest School site is within walking distance the children will walk to Forest School.

Clothing

Please ensure your child comes to nursery with appropriate clothing if he/she is taking part in a Forest School session. In all weathers they should always wear a long-sleeved top and long trousers, appropriate shoes (i.e. trainers) or wellies. If the weather is cold please also remember hats and gloves as they could be outside for a prolonged period of time.

Rules of Forest School

  • No picking wild flowers or plants
  • No eating anything found in the forest
  • Stay within the boundaries
  • Leave the forest as you found it

Warning: There is a high risk of your child getting muddy, and enjoying it!!

Items to be included in the equipment pack:

  • Mobile telephone
  • First aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues
  • Nappy sacks
  • Drinking bottles with water
  • Chosen snack
  • Wipes
  • Disposable gloves
  • Towel
  • Water for messy play, in old milk bottles