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Forest Schools

(35 Posts)
trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 19:56:18

I've just done a week's training as a Forest School Leader, which I loved, and now have to do LOADS of work before my assessment next July. Are there are teachers/parents with experience of up-and-running forest schools, with any advice to give/opinions about them?

DillieTantie Fri 27-Nov-09 20:53:04

Hi, I am a parent helper with Forest School. I started when my DD was in Reception as that was the first year to do Forest School. I enjoyed it so much that I have continued with it for the new Reception class. I do know that the Reception teacher, who is a trained FS Leader, had to put in loads of work before finishing her training. She also puts in a lot of work, thought and planning into her FS sessions.
We love FS and so do the children. They think that they are just out in the woods having fun, but the sessions are cleverly disguised as numeracy and literacy. They also learn about following rules, thinking about personal safety, teamwork and risk-taking, as well as having fun outdoors and learning about the environment, wildlife and conservation.
Qualifying as a FS Leader is hard work, but if you loved the first week, then go for it - the chances to do something you love are few and far between smile

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 21:50:20

Thank you DT - was hoping to hear from a parent helper - do you mind if I use you as a quote in an induction leaflet??!!

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 22:04:27

I've done a level 1 & an outdoor learning course & despite not really liking being outside (for various complex reasons), I totally loved it

The whole ethos/idea is so good for children and I am trying to introduce it in small ways in my setting

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:12:35

Like me KM! I'm not a hiker or scouter or anything like that - but making the fairy houses in the woods to save the fairies from the evil dragon Cedric.... well, you had to do something to help them!! The learning opportunities are immeasurable; and the creativity to be unleashed...

It's so exciting. Is there anyone who is going to being me down to earth with a bump, or are all my positive feelings justified?!

saintlydamemrsturnip Fri 27-Nov-09 22:17:24

DS3 is doing forest school at school (reception). I think it looks fabulous (is new - d2 didn't do it when he was in reception). He seems to enjoy it.

teenyweenytadpole Fri 27-Nov-09 22:20:34

I do forest school every week with my preschool. I'm not a trained leader but I work with someone who is, happy to exchange ideas but maybe you could CAT me. I love it, the kids love it, the parents love it, it's great but it is quite hard work to get it right.

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 22:21:19

For me the issue is affording the waterproofs

Some parents are co-operating but some aren't able to (financially)

I just got a grant of £50 plus I am getting an expert to come & help me adjust/improve my outdoor area

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:22:37

SDMS - Did you have a parents' meeting to introduce the idea of forest school? Any brochures? Did you feel that you understood about the ethos?

(sorry - this has bearings on the essays we're about to write, and I'm really interested to know how other schools dealt with it.)

How many children go out in one session?

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:26:38

KM - we were thinking of sending out a letter for parents to ask who wanted waterproofs (then we buy in bulk - we're doing with all KS1 and YR). Is that what you did? Did parent refuse to buy them?

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 22:28:10

I have managed to afford the waterproofs for the staff <gulp>

Some bits we are doing is inspired by my course

We peel veggies with peelers (from age 2)
We are cutting apple with the Pampered Chef special knives
We have a wigwam - which the children love & use a variety of coverings for
We are hoping to start cooking on a fire (have been hoping for a while but you never know)

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:28:26

Where are you teenyweenytadpole?

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:30:40

How often do you do it katymac? That's great about veggie peelers at 2 - I'll pass that on to my friend who's a nursery manager!

Sagacious Fri 27-Nov-09 22:32:09

dd is in her second yr of forest school (yr1)

I help out (parent helper)

We are a rural school but out of 29 children only 10 of them had been in the woods (10 min walk)

A boy who hadn't said a word in group discussions in 3 months of traditional schooling was demonstrating building a squirrel nest to the whole class after 2 sessions.

Favorite bits:
building shelters
the fire (though marshmellows burnt)
the home made (unplanned) class band
mud sculptures

Prior to the children doing FS the school held a meeting where it was all explained. A lot of parents were initially very sceptical (especially when told about fires and tools) but the children seem to love it.

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 22:43:20

It's complicated because I am a childminder (well mini nursery now) - I have suggested to parents that we could order together

But they are split between 'can't afford', 'don't see the need for', 'will buy a much better quality version' - t's very hard as I am introducing a 'new' thing that they didn't agree to at the beginning - they might not have chosen a FS Childminder

The stuff we do is not scheduled sessions just as part of our normal day (snack, cooking lunch/tea)

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 22:45:07

BTW I use the elongated D shaped peeler as they are easier for littlies to hold

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 22:56:04

Do you feel that it changes the children at all? Like increases self-esteem, or makes them better collaborators?

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 23:04:31

It's complicated (do I say that too often?)

As my oldest child is not yet 3 they are not really things I can separate out

I would say the children are happy outside - they chose to go outside, even the preverbal non walking children

They are free-er with their emotions after being outside and also (bizarrly/conflictingly) more controlled and better behaved

I am sure you have noticed how children are wild when there is wind - well if they play in the wind for 45 mins to an hour it really dies calm them down

I believe that the risk taking is very important - children not taking risks is (imo) a very great problem in this country - but it is difficult to quantify

saintlydamemrsturnip Fri 27-Nov-09 23:10:52

hi tricker. They go out in their class of 15 (I think). We were told a little about it at the parent's class meeting. I had heard of forest school anyway, so was quite interested and pleased to hear it had been introduced. Each week we get a class report with photos of things the children have been up to, and this usually includes a few sentences on forest school so I've built up more of an idea of the activities from that.

Activities have included building shelters, camouflage (so having to find different coloured 'worms'), making bird food and hanging in appropriate places, some v. basic stuff on habitats. Those are just ones I can remember off the top of my head.

saintlydamemrsturnip Fri 27-Nov-09 23:17:00

oh I was surprised to find out they go out in all weathers. Happy with that though (I am a shove 'em outside and drag them onto the middle of the moor to run around type parent). Surprised because of the preciousness that surrounds kids these days - forest school seems a bit of an antidote.

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 23:28:03

saintlydamemrsturnip I'd agree with that - child don't (usually) melt when they get wet

trickerg Fri 27-Nov-09 23:46:46

This is what I'm a bit worried about - we had a parent complain that daughter didn't wear her trackie bottoms in PE last week when it was 12 deg C. We need to sell the idea of going out in the rain for 2 hours at a time VERY WELL! Do you think it would be patronising to send a leaflet saying how children catch colds (e.g. from germs rather than getting cold?) What extra information would you have liked?

Katymac Fri 27-Nov-09 23:58:54

I would be careful about that tbh

There is (I believe) research which suggests that despite colds not being caused by being cold, being cold can increase your susceptibility to catching a cold

I think 'There is no such thing as inappropriate weather only inappropriate clothing' and reference Sweden extensively - we visited a museum where there was a locker room where we could put all our outdoor clothing in - this was also the same in pubs/restaurants etc

teenyweenytadpole Sat 28-Nov-09 11:15:07

I am in Gloucestershire, small community run preschool, our forest school site is in the woods nearby and we walk to it. All parents are given a handbook which tells them all about forest school, they can attend that session or not, most do but not some of the really tiny ones as it would be too much for them. All parents are asked to provide a full set of waterproofs and wellies, we do also have spares though (collected over the years, mostly donated) so if anyone had a problem affording it we could quietly offer that. It is a pain when children are not properly dressed, if they get cold they get tired and grumpy, so a good stock of hats, gloves etc is also handy. We are slowly building up to fires etc, the children are going to help us build a firepit soon, and we are having a shelter put up (tarpaulin over a wood frame) as well as a living willow den being built soon. I agree it's great for the children who find preschool difficult - we have a boy who is very shy with speech problems but he excels in the woods and becomes quite the extrovert, another little girl with suspected ADHD also does really well and will concentrate for a long time on a task e.g building dens for small cuddly toys (we have a special bag of forest school ones such as squirrels and rabbits that we take with us).

trickerg Sat 28-Nov-09 14:32:14

Are you level 3 trained teenyweeny? How long have you been doing it?

Thanks for all your positive comments ladies! Do you find parents choose your schools / preschools because they have heard you do FS?

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