What is 'Forest School'

A little bit about: Forest School

Forest School- What is that?
Forest School can be defined as outdoor learning in a woodland setting based on a number of sessions led by a trained practitioner. Young people and adults are given the opportunity to experience a stimulating environment which can help them develop a range of practical and emotional skills. Sessions are participant led giving them the space and time to learn at their own rate. Sessions are designed with learning as the key and therefore can be linked to the National Curriculum as well as employment competencies.

Why is Forest School beneficial for me or my child/ren?
Allowing participants to explore materials, encounter new experiences, interact with themselves and others with minimum direction from an adult leader can assist with their development ‘holistically’. This approach is integrated during a Forest School session were participants are given the time and opportunity to undertake an activity at their own pace using their own creativity.
Holistic development is an approach that aims to incorporate a participants Physical, Intellectual, Communication, Spiritual and Social well-being simultaneously. This can be achieved at Forest School sessions by using a multi-sensory approach when planning and during sessions. 
Forest School enables adults and children to embark on ‘risk taking’ during sessions which is managed, empowering the participants to take responsibility for themselves and others. During sessions participants are made aware of the site, weather and associated hazards as well as how to stay safe during a session. The leader facilitates the participants to discuss what the boundaries are, how to use a particular tool safely and how the group can stay safe by working together. This approach can help individuals to develop their confidence in themselves as they are able to share their knowledge with their peers. 

What does a Family or WhittleStix 'n' Nature Day/Forest School session look like?
In general, a 2 hour session will follow the pattern below:
Introduction to each other and the site
Game based on fire safety
Activities
Free exploration and play time-can include den building
Fire lighting and cooking
Reflection and evaluation
All sessions are held outside, suitable clothing and protection should be worn or brought to the session.
Sessions will be cancelled in the event of high winds.

Why does it need a Forest School qualified leader?
The Forest School leader is the person adequately qualified and responsible for a group of children/adults in the outside environment. They are responsible for designing a program of activities that is suitable for the age and ability of the group. Having a set of dates, planned a program and duration, sessions are held for a set number of weeks at the same time and place which can assist with the group and its individuals sense of stability. The group and individual’s knowledge that the session will be every week, can help to meet the need of ‘Safety’ which enables an individual to be relaxed and in turn assist with their learning process. 
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