What is Forest School?
At Pembury, our Forest School programme aims to give children the opportunity to learn about the natural environment and find out how to handle risks. It challenges thinking, and encourages children to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. These are all skills children need to develop to become effective learners.
Our Forest School programme runs throughout the year, and groups of children have forest school activites in our garden or the local park in all weathers (except for high winds). This gives the children first hand experiences of nature and the changing seasons. Children use full sized tools, play and learn boundaries of behaviour (both physical and social). Research has found that children who participate in forest school activities grow in confidence and self-esteem, and become self - motivated to learn.
The origins of Forest School – how did it start?
In Denmark, Forest Schools have been part of Early Years Education since the 1980s. Forest School is an educational approach to outdoor play and learning. The philosophy of Forest School is to provide young children with an outdoor education for all-round development. It encourages learning, an appreciation of the natural world, and taking responsibility for nature conservation in later life.
Pembury Forest School
Pembury Forest School is a challenge that grew from the staff team’s idea to provide an environmentally friendly curriculum, using natural resources, in an urban area. We want to bring the beauty of nature and all its possibilities for learning to children. We have seen how it helps children learn critical thinking, how children have to work and share together to solve problems, how children (some of whom rarely talk indoors) chatter away and ask BIG questions leading to scientific and mathematical research. Most of all we have seen how much children enjoy the activities, the intense concentration on their faces and how the activities can hold their interest for long, long periods of time. These are such important skills that help children develop a lifelong love of learning as well as an understanding of the natural environment. Through careful planning, children from the nursery take part in Forest School activities, enabling them to excel in all areas of their personal, academic and spiritual development.
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When and where is Forest School?
Forest School activities take place every day across the nursery class and Under 3s nursery. In addition, focus group activities are organized by Pauline, our trained Forest School Leader, in our garden, for small groups of children every Thursday morning and afternoon. The same groups visit for half a term, then other groups of children have a turn on a rota basis, so all children have a half term of visits. Children are dressed appropriately for the weather. They wear waterproofs and wellies in wet and cold weather, and wear hats and sunscreen if the weather is hot.