Regular visits for extended periods of time in a natural environment
We believe the greatest benefits come when children spend regular visits (weekly) to a woodland area with great lengths of uninterrupted time to play, to explore and to develop. We go outside as often as we can for as long as we can except in very severe weather.
Safety & Supported Risk Taking
Children learn to assess risk when given the opportunity to take risks in a supported environment. Benefits to risk taking include self-confidence, perseverance and problem solving skills.
Baseline risk-benefit assessments are completed for every activity and with every child. Relationship building, graduated risk and flexibility in design of activities are strategies used to help each learner take risk at an age, skill and developmentally appropriate level. The use of tools and fire are used when it is appropriate for the age and skill level of the children at Forest School.
Observation and Inquiry
Our practice of learning together alongside children begins with observation. We try to observe the children’s learning preferences, skills, strengths and interests as they engage in play. Through dialogue and questioning strategies we gauge knowledge and further our understanding of the children’s interests. From there we plan the work collaboratively with the children for the group and individuals, allowing space for learner preferences and choice.
We provide provocations to create longevity, to provide further stimulation and support to deepen the learning and stay with a topic for a longer period of time.
Hands on learning and play
Meaning develops and deepens from hands-on learning. The natural world provides endless materials for play and building. Confidence and competence develops from creating and building useful items from the surrounding environment.
Storytelling is a wonderful way to develop learning and understanding of ourselves and our relationship to others and the world around us. In Forest School we practice the tradition of animated oral storytelling as a way to teach, share and to provoke thinking. It develops meaning-making, provides opportunity for reflection and for honing wisdom. We see storytelling coming out in children’s own stories, in their play, language and in their interactions with one another. Storytelling also give us an entry into sharing parts of our lives outside of Forest School which helps us to build relationships and connect home to Forest School.
Reflection and Mindfulness
We as practitioners work to be reflective in our practice with one another. We do this by reviewing with the children the work that we do together every day. We also work to inspire reflectiveness through journal writing, creativity and through independent time with sit spots.
In our sit spots we encourage quiet time for reflection and thoughtful time on the day’s experiences or lived activities.
We also begin everyday with exercises such as yoga and stretching or songs and chants that help connect us with our own bodies, minds and with the environment.