Here at The Butterfly Patch, we LOVE Forest School – we have our Morden Park Forest School and are working on offering Forest School sessions across most of our nurseries… But why?
What’s the point? And what does your little one get up to at Forest School anyway? Is there any way to support their learning?
We’re here to answer these questions and more!
It might sound like a bit of a hipster trend, but did you know this outdoor learning approach actually dates back to 1950s Scandinavia?! Click here to find out more.
For a quick summary:
Forest School can be held anywhere outside from parks to gardens and …well forests!
Sessions can be held in all weather conditions (as long as conditions are safe, yes this includes rain) and involve children getting in touch with nature where they play in natural environments.
This allows children to experience challenges, developing skills that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to learn in the classroom – giving them better practice for getting out in the real world in the future.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s have a look at what children get up to!
Forest School practitioners are well trained to plan, observe, and make changes to sessions so that they are catered to the children’s likes and developmental stages.
Sessions are child-led so there are hundreds of options for the type of activities!
Here are some examples: foraging, tree climbing, hunting for bugs, building and cooking on fires, learning to use tools, sensory play, team activities, tree climbing, natural crafts and so much more.
Some of these may sound a little dangerous but don’t worry. Our practitioners are well trained to ensure each of these activities take place within a controlled environment, keeping things safe!
Now onto the why… what are the benefits of Forest School?
Being outdoors comes with all sorts of positives from aiding your little one’s physical development (gross and fine motor skills) to being good for their overall well-being and mental health!
It also allows them to begin to understand the wider world around them, as well as become more aware of environmental issues.
Through various activities, they’re also able to better develop their language and communication as well as team working skills.
These may include math questions or various challenges that really test their problem-solving skills.
And finally, it allows them to learn in all new and different ways you couldn’t within a classroom setting. Making learning fun and engaging, even for those little ones who seem less engaged indoors.
This only covers a few of the potential benefits of Forest School for children’s development – we didn’t even go into creativity, independence, confidence and more! But you can read more about this by clicking here.
So, Forest School has some amazing benefits for your little… now, how can you support them if they do attend forest school sessions?
First of all, if you have any questions, concerns or worries about Forest School sessions, please speak to your key person or nursery manager.
They will be able to answer any questions you have and give you more information.
This is vital as your little one will be able to sense that you’re not 100% on-board and may become nervous before their session.
Secondly, be sure that your little one is dressed suitably. Wellies, waterproofs, long-sleeved tops, and trousers (to protect their arms and legs).
Hats and gloves for winter and sun hats and sun cream for summer!
We recommend buying at least some of these items second hand as clothing brands account for a whopping 10% of our global pollution (this is more than airplane travel!).
Or here are some of our favourite sustainable clothing brands:
Again, if you’re unsure at any point, chat to your nursery manager or key person!
Reminder: your little one will get messy so don’t send them to nursery in their best clothes – also worth providing spares for the really messy days!
And finally, did you know you can continue this learning outside of nursery?! Or if sessions aren’t yet offered where you are, you can kickstart them at home!
All you need is to head down to the garden, park or forest and try these out:
Disclaimer – we only recommend trying out sensory or crafting activities. Using tools, making fires can be dangerous without a qualified practitioner supervising.
Nature tray to learn parts of a flower from Living Montessori Now – click here for the full guide.
Painting on sticks from Emma Owl – click here for the full guide.
Nature shapes math activity from Nurture Store – click here for the full guide.
Printing with stones from Emma Owl – click here for the full guide.
What lives in the dirt science activity from Go Science Kids – click here for the full guide.
Leaf fishing from Wilder Child – click here for the full guide.
Nature portraits from Adventure in a Box – click here for the full guide.
For more activity ideas from The Ladybirds Adventures ideal for children aged 2 click here.
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