King's Ford Infants Forest School
Forest School Guide for Parents
What is Forest School?
Forest School is an approach to learning that involves regular sessions outdoors preferably in a woodland setting. It connects children with, and develops an appreciation of the outdoor environment. It offers challenging activities that enable children to take responsibility, manage risk, foster resilience and develop confidence in order to become independent and creative learners.
Although at King’s Ford we do not have access to a forest or even a woodland, we do have an outdoor area with some trees and can use the particular ethos and approach to learning that Forest School promotes.
Forest School offers a child-led approach where they learn through their self-directed play. It supports the development of the ‘whole’ child and supplements the learning that takes place in the classroom.
Evidence from existing Forest Schools suggests that through regular, carefully planned sessions in the same outdoor/ woodland area children will develop;
- A positive attitude to learning,
- Independence, resilience and personal confidence,
- Enhanced language, communication and social skills,
- A wide range of physical skills,
- A greater understanding of their own environment and seasonal change,
- A greater understanding of wider environmental issues.
What kind of things will the children be doing?
The children will participate in a variety of activities including:
shelter and den building;
rope swinging and climbing;
playing in mud;
singing songs and making music;
using a variety of tools;
experiencing a camp fire.
Although activities are planned and available the children are able to choose and self-direct and develop their play in their own way.
Play is children’s learning
At times the children may play with mud as part of an activity, or the site may become muddy due to the weather. Please be prepared for your child to get muddy from time to time during Forest School sessions – they will have a lot of fun doing so! Re-assure them that it’s OK to get a bit grubby every now and then.
As sessions develop a variety of tools may be used to make badges, beads and other items. Our trained Leader will teach safe tool use to the children to use items such as small saws, potato peelers for whittling wood and loppers or secateurs.
An exciting part of Forest School is having a camp fire. It forms a focal point for the session and we can enjoy cooking a variety of snacks eg toast, crumpets or marshmallows. We will have special safety agreements in place for sessions when a fire is used and it is constantly supervised by a responsible adult.
Who will be working with the children and leading the sessions?
Our sessions will be starting in January and will be led by a qualified Forest School Leader who will be working with the school. She is also a former teacher and retired Headteacher so has experience of the education system as well as Forest School practice. She will be supported by other school staff who work with the children in class.
What Clothing will the children need?
The children will attend sessions on a regular basis throughout the year, whatever the weather. They will need to be appropriately dressed to keep them warm and dry.
The children will need to change from their school uniform for their Forest School session. We suggest old clothes as they may get muddy or dirty, layers rather than one thick jumper as they tend to keep you warmer and can be taken off more easily if the child gets too hot. In the winter, gloves, hats and scarves are essential, as are more than one pair of socks - wellies, although waterproof are notoriously cold!
The children will need wellies or trainers and a waterproof coat.
School will provide waterproof trousers.
Part of the purpose of Forest school is for children to experience new challenges and learn to take reasonable risks. Therefore, comprehensive Risk Assessments are undertaken for the site and all activities, especially when tools are being used. The school will also follow all relevant guidelines laid down by Essex County Council Codes of Practice relating to schools (CoP 25), Outdoor play activities (CoP 23) and Educational and Recreational visits (CoP 28).