Wirksworth Junior School believes that Forest School is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. We aim to provide outdoor experiences that supports our children’s wellbeing by providing and implementing positive outdoor, child-led experiences in a natural setting, the impact of which will help foster traits such as resilience, confidence and independence and develop motivation, cooperation, decision making and social skills. Children who struggle with learning indoors are often enabled to develop new ways of learning and coping with the world. The opportunity to succeed in an alternative environment makes Forest School a great place for children of all ages showing challenging behaviour to have a second chance in a new environment. Respect for the environment and others helps relationships build in a more relaxed atmosphere so enabling and empowering all students to have the opportunity to achiever their complete and full potential.
The woodland environment is central in supporting this approach to learning: the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment – an infinite source of tastes. Smell, textures and sounds and a range of visual stimuli all contribute to the Forest School learning experience.
Forest school lessons should make learning more relevant to their lives in the community and wider world. We encourage children to be responsible for and respect the local community and environment giving them a sense of belonging and ownership of the place in which they live. We explore the uses of the local area, integrating subjects so that meaningful activities can be planned and delivered effectively and regularly.
Our Forest School sessions encourage children to:
- Develop personal and social skills
- Work through practical problems and challenges
- Use tools to create, build or manage
- Discover how they learn best
- Pursue knowledge that interests them
- Learn how to manage failures
- Build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk
- Develop practical skills
- Understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle
- Explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth
- Regularly experience achievement and success
- Reflect on their learning experience
- Develop their language and communication skills
- Improve physical motor skills
- Become more motivated
- Improve their concentration skills
- Bring classroom topics to life
Activities for Forest School are diverse and numerous, we are trying to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and create new ideas. A long-term plan completed for Year 3 and 4 classes and for Year 5 and 6 classes ensures the skills and knowledge that children will develop throughout Forest School are mapped across each year group and throughout the school to ensure progression. This enables links to other curriculum areas.
Cross curricular planning – planning is done alongside the class teacher at the start of each half term, incorporating class topics, childrens individual needs and learning into Forest School. Evaluation and review after each sessions helps us plan more specifically for the next, in keeping with the ethos of Forest School.
We utilise the outdoor areas available to us, onsite at school, Stoney Wood, Black Rocks, Wirksworth Community Garden, Stone Centre Woods, and local walks. This gives us a rich variety of areas to learn in and also makes the children aware and part of the areas locally available to them while developing a respect and love of nature.
Some activities might include:
- Shelter building
- Fire lighting
- Tool use
- Studying wildlife
- Playing team and group games
- Sensory activities
- Rope and string work, tying knots
- Art and sculpture work
- Woodland and traditional craft
- Developing stories and drama, and meeting imaginary characters
For more information about Forest Schools please see the Forest School Association website.
We are always on the lookout for extra helpers for our forest school sessions, so if you would be interested in joining us and seeing what we get up to, please contact the School Office.
To see more photos please follow us on twitter @wirksworthjun https://twitter.com/wirksworthjun