Forest School Sessions
Forest School sessions are an innovative educational approach that focuses on the ‘processes of learning’ rather than ‘content transfer’.
Forest School is play based, with child led learning at its centre, taking place regularly in an outdoor setting.
Forest School sessions provide a place for the child’s spark of creativity to be ignited within a rich, ever changing and limitless learning environment, naturally stimulating the development of motor skills, speech and language, utilising the senses of touch, hearing, sight and smell.
There are no buildings, no desks, no bells signalling break time and no prescribed learning outcomes. Instead they move, explore, discover, wonder and use their own imaginations.
It is a place for children to communicate, cooperate, problem solve, takes risks, build and construct; and if educators and supervisors are able to step outside the box of over planning and venture into the exciting territory of the unexpected, unplanned and unlimited, the full potentiality of children will naturally begin to thrive.
“The very skilled educator knows when to offer an insight, a question, or materials to support the child’s learning, but more importantly knows when to get out of the way.” – Jon Cree.
A typical day with Nursery children at Forest School..
Coming together in a circle is the usual starting point for the session. Taking a moment to ‘arrive’ in the space and breathe. How are we feeling? What is happening in the natural world around us? What have you noticed on the way here?
Perhaps someone saw something on the way into the woods – an animal track, a flower, a feather, a magical stick!
We follow curiosity straight into enquiry, wonder, stories, play and identification.
“What is it? I’ve never seen that before.” “Where did it come from?”
A game begins! Wolf and Deer running through the bracken and hiding behind the trees! Who will be caught and who is the catcher? Who is the Prey and who is the Predator?
Playing cooperatively and collaboratively. Leading us naturally into more learning about the animals within the game and how they interact with one another – such as the nature of animals hunting.
“How did it feel to be the wolf? How does a pack of wolves hunt?”
“It was exciting chasing the deer.” “We caught the deer when we worked together”.
“Why is my heart beating so fast?”
Unsupervised and non-directed spaces of free play are usually the time when a child’s natural curiosities for more opportunities to explore, discover new boundaries and take risks are readily available to those who are seeking them.
So it’s off to the river. “Who knows the way? Let’s go!”
“I like the noise when I jump into the river.” “Look at how dirty my hands are.”
A few pieces of equipment available is just enough to inspire a new game, a new skill.
“Let’s build a Dam!” “Where the Mallet? I want to build a House!” Two children precariously slipping down the river bank; shall I help them? “I’ll help you, take this rope and I’ll pull you up.”
(No need, they have it covered.)
“1,2,3,4,5…five buckets of leaves in the river..let’s keep going..6,7,8..”
”There were slugs underneath that log, why are they living there?” “That was fun.”
Playing alone or in natural groupings are observed as indicators to the differing learning styles and preferences within the group.
“I liked making my own house.” “We made a camp together, look at what we did!”
Pride and self reflection gaining its own momentum.
Sawing? Who wants to have a go at making a fire?
A more focused activity can happen now as children are ‘ready and receptive’.
Learning about safety, control and focus to try a new skill.
“Can we toast marshmallows this week?”
Returning to the circle at the end to reflect and share.
Inspirations, discoveries, new skills and stories are all ripe to be picked, eaten and enjoyed by all of us. “We made a mud cake together, we found lots of different types of soil to make the pie with, how come there are so many?”
Natural curiosities are things to celebrate as much as possible, who knows where they will lead?
“I didn’t know I was good at sawing; I would like to do more sawing to make a car next time.”
What did we see? Who remembers the noise of the Woodpecker?
“Is it finished already?”
“Can we do this again tomorrow?”
Defenders of play, and protector’s of fantasy, wonder and awe. Our job is done for today..until next time.
By Charlie Irving, Circle of Life Rediscovery – Woodland Facilitator.
“The nursery children love Forest School. We trialled a 10 week programme with Circle of Life Rediscovery at their beautiful woodland site in the heart of Sussex and the outcome more than exceeded our expectations. Since then we have been going back every year. The children are always so excited to go back to the forest every week, running down the path!” Anita Hotton, Pumpkin Patch Nursery.
Forest School Sessions at your setting.
If you are interested in Forest School Sessions at your nursery or school then please contact us by email or phone 01273 814226. Sessions can take place at your setting or at our woodland site near Laughton, East Sussex.
Forest School Training Level 3
If you would like to train your staff, we offer unique training at our woodland site and at Parkwood campsite near Brighton. If you have a group we can also offer bespoke training.
2019/20 Course dates:
Part 1: 21 & 22nd November 2019 at Mill Woods and 25th, 26th, 27th November 2019 at Parkwood Campsite.
Part 2: 27th, 28th February 2020 at Parkwood Campsite and 2nd, 3rd March 2020 at Mill Woods.
Approved by the Forest School Association and awarded by the Open College Network West Midlands, this Level 3 Certificate provides the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to prepare learners for employment as a Forest School Leader.
The training will combine key principles of Forest School with best practice from Environment and Nature Education, child development, the world of play (wild, free and therapeutic play) delivered by our professional team who have many years experience.
Circle of Life Training are now providing online learning resources to supplement this in-depth direct training. These documents are laid out in an easy to understand format that link to the Forest School Units. We also supply useful video material, links to best practice, a student upload to share valuable resources and the option to download resources for you to keep.
Please visit our website to find out more or call us on 01273 814226.
Transforming education, health and family through nature.
We provide exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.