At Southborough Pre-School we are privileged to have access to Southborough Schools’ woodland. As part of our continuing professional development ethos, one of our Pre-School managers, Melek, trained at the BEECHE Forest School, which means we are now part of the exciting new development for early years settings. She became a qualified forest school leader in 2014.
Forest school is a concept adapted from Scandinavian ‘Nature Nurseries’. The initiative was set up in this country to enable children to have regular access to high quality outdoor learning that is both fun and meaningful. Forest School has a philosophy of child-led learning, where the role of the adult is to observe and facilitate rather than lead the learning.
Forest school aims to improve confidence, self esteem and independence in children, improve language and social skills and develop healthy lifestyles, as we promote awareness and a respect for the natural world. This is achieved through regular visits to Forest School where children are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning, by giving them small, achievable tasks and the time, space and freedom to explore their own learning styles. Tasks and activities are repeated and revisited to consolidate learning and build confidence. Rules and routine are helped to make children feel comfortable and safe within the Forest School environment.
Studies of nature nurseries in Sweden have shown that children are happier, have better social skills and co-ordination and are more able to concentrate than their peers who are placed in city based pre-schools. In addition they are also healthier and have 25% fewer sick days than city based children.
In the UK case studies have shown that children who attend Forest School are more open and mix more readily in a variety of situations. Quiet or introverted children are able to ‘come out of their shell’ and join in without the pressures they may experience in a classroom environment. Boys particularly benefit from the practical nature of Forest School, as they are working with ‘real’ things helping to improve their concentration and interest.