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Forest School

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I hear things, and I forget them.

I see things, and I remember them. I do things, and I understand them.

 

Bishop Tufnell Forest School  

Learning new skills, building confidence, playing, working and learning collaboratively, making new friends, team building, solving problems, assessing risks, being creative ---this is what our Forest School is all about!

Over the past few years increasing research has backed up what Forest School enthusiasts have always known--- that encouraging children to interact with the natural world results, over time, in increased self-belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication and problem solving skills and emotional well-being.

Forest School offers our children opportunities once a year for half a term to get outside and experience the natural world. As Chris Packham says:

‘‘How can young children learn about the natural world from the internet or in libraries? How will that ignite a lifelong interest in the most beautiful things our world has to offer? It won’t. Young people need to get out and see nature and hear it, they need to feel it.’ 

In a single generation since the 1970s, children’s ‘radius of activity’—the area around their home  in which they are allowed to roam … has declined by nearly 90% (Sangford and Gaster ‘Urban Children’s Access to their Neighbourhoods’.) Children now spend more and more time sitting in front of screens, whether game playing, using the internet or on television. They are in danger of NDD—Nature Deficit Disorder!

It is not that technological advances should not be celebrated, but they are addictive and take us away from other pastimes.

The process of learning about and caring for nature begins most naturally in childhood: going outdoors lays critical foundations for a healthy developing brain. Splashing in the mud, making shelters and friends, acting, pretending and exploring are all multi-sensory experiences that grow neural pathways and reduce cortisol. Cortisol is released in response to stress, and when we are stressed we cannot learn.

A large part of the Forest School experience is to teach the children, within a safe and secure environment, how to assess risks for themselves; taking a thoughtful and balanced approach. The ‘wild’, and yet  controlled, safe environment of Forest School ensures that our children taking part naturally learn to assess risk. They are encouraged to make sensible and informed decisions about how to deal with unfamiliar and unpredictable situations (such as exploring or climbing trees, using tools to build a shelter or den).

All staff at Forest School strive to enrich the children’s thinking and learning by careful questioning and answering. Learning may seem less formal than in the classroom, but the woodland provides a wealth of opportunities for rich, meaningful, hands on, fun learning.  Some activities are team and group centered, encouraging collaborative and social skills, whilst others promote a more personal and reflective approach. Many activities involve learning to use tools safely and responsibly, for example in fire lighting or stick whittling, while many look at the range of Science Curriculum content, including ‘Rock and Soils’, ‘Adaption and Survival’ and ‘Life Processes.

We hope children will carry their new found skills and confidence back into the classroom and into other areas of their lives.

We hope they will ask their parents and carers to take them out to wild and green places at the weekends, and to develop healthy life styles.

We hope that our children will become the scientists and defenders of the natural world in the future, and that they will engage personally with the outdoors in order that their minds and bodies can develop and be inspired to love all that is good in God’s wonderful world.

Our Forest School

Be Safe!

Be Curious!

Have Fun!

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