Forest School experience

Benefits of Forest School for Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School

Forest Schools are a unique way of building independence and self-esteem in young children. The experience is fun and the learning which occurs is observed and recorded in a similar way to the learning which occurs in school. The children splash in puddles, roll in the leaves and because of the high adult /child ratios, they can safely experience types of activities that are so often considered dangerous, such as climbing trees. By using learning and teaching strategies which foster and develop confidence and build self- esteem, children learn risk awareness and how to manage risk taking.  We find that the combination of freedom and responsibility have been particularly beneficial to children who, for whatever reason, struggle within an indoor/school environment, or who exhibit challenging behaviour. The staff gain new insights into the children by observing them in a challenging environment. Children can choose to join in with activities suggested by staff such as mini-beast hunts or making collections, as well as undertaking their own explorations.  The session includes time for a drink and a snack and ends with walking back to school , sharing all the exciting things they have experienced. Children attend Forest School sessions throughout the year and although this is not a specific environmental education programme, they will experience all weathers and seasons and develop a deeper understanding about the natural world along the way. The added family benefit is the ‘ripple effect’ where children talk about their experiences at home which then encourages families to visit local woods and become more aware of their immediate environment.

Outcomes for children significantly improved after Forest School experiences, especially :

  • Personal confidence and self esteem
  • Social Skills
  • Motivation and concentration
  • Language and communication skills
  • Physical skills
  • Knowledge, awareness and respect for the environment

Lesley Carrington, Head Teacher, Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School and Nursery