At Woodland View Junior School, our overall aim is to recognise and develop the strength and talents of all children in all aspects of their learning. We are lucky enough to have a large outdoor learning space in which our Forest School sessions can take place. Our Forest School has a number of overall aims but at times the aims of the session will be specific to the group. Groups of children will be selected to take part in Forest School sessions throughout the year. Sometimes these groups will be based on a specific need but at other times the children may be class groupings.
During Forest School sessions we aim for children to explore and experience the natural world to develop an awareness of the natural rhythm of the changing seasons and embrace them. Sessions will take place in all weathers with the exception of high winds or thunder and lightning.
Initially, learning opportunities for the children may well be scaffolded by an adult and the children offered a limited choice of activities. Gradually, children will be encouraged to direct their own learning and follow their own interests. Opportunities will be provided for the children to make choices and to take risks –in a safe environment - to push slightly out of their comfort zone thus building resilience to cope in a range of situations. Many sessions will allow children the confidence to be creative or to investigate without judgement. Forest School builds on the child’s innate motivation to learn and curiosity to find out more. As well as embracing creativity, many sessions will contain an element of problem solving and the development of many new skills. Our Forest School seeks to benefit the holistic development of the child.
At times, cross-curricular links many be made to many other subjects in order to maximise the learning opportunities and to give children the opportunity to learn in different ways.
During the sessions, children will be encouraged to build positive attitudes and relationships with all of the people that work with them. Through this positive social interaction, children may well experience a range of emotions and how to acknowledge and deal with them. Participation in Forest School will nurture a child’s growing awareness of their own emotional needs and the needs of others. Cooperation with others and the requirement to communicate needs and wishes will be central to the ethos. On some occasions, Forest School may be physically challenging.
Essentially, sessions encourage play in an outdoor environment while the Forest School Leaders make observations of the children’s increasing self-esteem. We will seek to encourage children to believe in themselves, often having the confidence and concentration to learn though trial and error to develop the knowledge and understanding to improve.
Although based in school, we very much hope that the enjoyment that the children gain from taking part in Forest School will have a ripple effect on the activities that they like to share with their families at home.