We love our Forest School!
We are so lucky to have the use of a small woodland, leased to us by Hampton Estate and just a few minutes walk from pre-school, along the North Downs Way. This area of outstanding natural beauty is fantastic to explore and observe nature at it's best, surrounded by agricultural fields and woodlands, we get to see so much wildlife such as the red kite, buzzards, barn owl, roe deer, rabbits, nuthatches, wood voles and lots of other creatures. It is quite amazing to watch the combine harvester work the fields! We sometimes find dead birds and small animals, which gives us an excellent opportunity to safely take a closer look while talking about the lifecycle; children are so curious and fascinated by the natural world around them.
What is Forest School? Here are the 6 principles we work within as a Forest School setting:
Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a lifelong relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners, who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
How do we do that at SVP?
Our Forest School sessions are led by a qualified forest school leader, where we help children to develop independence and confidence through various activities such as climbing the fallen trees, building dens, making swings and seesaws, and starting to use real tools - bowsaws, screwdrivers, potato peelers (for whittling).
We love a campfire, and build up to cooking on the fire through the academic year, starting with toasting marshmallows or making s'mores or enjoying a hot chocolate.
Forest School sessions are for 3 and 4 year olds on one morning a week - no extra costs for this. We give parents a 'kit list' so that children are dressed and ready for Forest School when they arrive...we do go out in all weathers!
We start to take children for a little visit to the Forest School site the term before their 3rd birthday in small groups, so that they can start to become familiar with the new environment ready for their full sessions.
We are still attending the Forest School site while we train our new Forest School leader! But we will not be using tools or having camp fires until they are fully qualified.