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FT Forest school/outdoor nursery- your experiences please?

(14 Posts)
Snakebiteandblack Sun 02-Feb-14 06:50:32

I've just heard about an outdoor nursery starting up nearish to where we live. It's for age 2.5 up to five. The person in charge is forest school trained. I can't go to see it in action yet as not begun.

I really like the sound of it as I think it would be fun and good at encouraging lots of imaginative play and animals and nature awareness all of which DD is into. But suffice to say when we're at home we don't go out into the woods for a whole day regardless of the weather which the nursery would do.

So how does the FS this work out in practice? Can good outdoor gear really keep a kid dry and warm enough to be outside 9-3.30? What if they need a sit down, a sleep, the loo or a nappy change or feel a bit ill and can't run about to keep warm? Is it any fun dragging a backpack round all day and being constantly trussed up in thermals and waterproofs? Do kids who also like books and pictures etc enjoy it as much as those who love the idea of running about all day? And also bearing in mind this would be in an urban public park how closely supervised is the freedom given and should I worry about the security aspects of it?

From a practical POV I need reliable childcare that is reliable to allow me to work; so this is not just about providing a lovely experience for my DD. would an outdoor nursery be able to cope with all eventualities as well as a conventional nursery could do?

I would really like to hear about your experiences. I know some people feel passionate about forest schools and much as I like the idea of it I just wondered what the reality is actually like?

teacherlikesapples Sun 02-Feb-14 17:31:32

I can only really talk about forest school from a practitioner's perspective, as for the more specific things that you ask- that will really depend on the setting, staff & their personal ethos. It is difficult to make generalisations about any outdoor nursery & assume they will all operate the same.

In my experience- forest school has been transformational for the children & adults involved. In terms of raising confidence, promoting language, physical and social skill it is amazing. We weren't out there all day, every day though.

I can tell you from our sessions: we ensured that the children were dressed for the forecast- thermals & good waterproof clothing & footwear when needed. We also had those silver foil survival blankets & wore them as 'capes' if the children ever needed extra warmth for any reason. They are brilliant.

We took seating pads and had seating logs in our space, so anyone could comfortably sit at anytime. We didn't have to wear our backpacks the whole time, we left them in a central spot (It wasn't a public thoroughfare, so quite safe to do so) - then just got things from them as needed.
As for the clothing, we dressed in layers, so if we got too hot we just took a layer off. We took books & sitting activities (e.g carving, threading (with natural materials we collected, weaving) so if a child wanted to just sit & chill out they could.

You have to remember- being outside is not just about running about, children got over that novelty quite quickly, then spent the majority of time digging for mini-beasts, climbing, making mudpies. So they had a range of quiet & active activities across the day.

Really- I think people might be able to give you their personal experiences, outdoor learning can be amazing, but you really need to be having most of this conversation with the people setting up this outdoor nursery. Get the specifics from them, because really only they can give you the information you need.

Snakebiteandblack Sun 02-Feb-14 22:20:56

Thank you very much for posting Teacher- I really appreciate your perspective on it as a practitioner. I am definitively going to get in touch with the people setting up my local FS nursery to find out how they plan to run things. It sounds like it has the potential to be an amazing experience for the children.

Are there any other parents around who have used this kind of nursery?

Smartiepants79 Sun 02-Feb-14 22:30:30

Well I'm forest school trained and agree that it is an amazing thing.
However I have never come across it where that children are there all day. I've only ever done half day sessions as part of a whole school curriculum. I presume they will have to provide proper shelter and facilities. They will be expected to provide all the opportunities that any child in nursery is expected to get and cover the EYFS curriculum.
Forest school is brilliant especially if you have an outdoorsy child but I would want to know more about how it works as an entire nursery environment. Also how often will your DC be going? I wouldn't have wanted to be outdoors all day everyday as child and neither would my Dd!

Snakebiteandblack Mon 03-Feb-14 22:07:59

Smartie I think that's it in a nutshell- I'm keen to understand how- while the outdoors experience part of it sounds amazing- they could offer everything that you would have at a more conventional nursery.

Ultimately I'd be looking for 3 full days childcare while I work and I suppose with this idea I am hoping to compensate for living in a small flat in an urban environment. Someone said in continental/Scandinavian countries they do have all-day nurseries outside so it must be doable. I just wonder what it's actually like.

mousmous Mon 03-Feb-14 22:16:19

dc goes to forest school once a week.
loves it and comes home covered in mud but very happy and tired!

do they stay warm?
- yes, if clothed properly. atm dc wears: tights, short leggings, long leggings, jeans, socks, welly socks, vest, t-shirt, turtle neck, jumper. then wellies, rainproof trousers+coat. mittens (a few pair to change in case they get wet), scarf, hat.
think layers, it's always easy to get rid of layers.

mousmous Mon 03-Feb-14 22:18:52

oh, and they are outside from 9-4, they have a toilet block, sinks for handwashing and a carport sized shelter that is open on 2 sides.

ZucchiniPie Fri 21-Feb-14 13:12:02

I'm also considering signing DS up for this nursery, but only for two half days (mornings) a week. From the above comments that sounds like it might be about the right amount - he's 2 and a half so probably wouldn't be up to doing much more than that - but one of my reservations about it is that this particular nursery is completely untried and tested. I didn't know about it in time to attend a parents' information session so haven't even met the main teacher, so I'd be committing to something completely blind.

Snakebite, did you get to go to the session? It's also quite expensive, considering they have no conventional overheads like a normal nursery would have so it's got to be absolutely top quality in terms of the staff, imaginativeness of the activities and care. Do you know anything about where she's hired her staff from?

I'm really interested in DS going but it does feel like a bit of a leap of faith in case it all turns out to be a bit lacklustre and we've paid upfront for half a term!

givemeaclue Fri 21-Feb-14 23:24:32

Not sure it would work as well in an urban public park as in an actual forest.

Presume wouldn't be all day every day?

1 day per week enough surely?

ZucchiniPie Sat 22-Feb-14 12:19:37

well it's not an urban park in the sense that it is a large area of woodland that is open to the public. there are paths laid out but it is like being in the countryside.

givemeaclue Sat 22-Feb-14 12:34:07

Sorry I meant the op

nethunsreject Sat 22-Feb-14 12:36:07

I've used a few forest schools in my area. I think they can be great but I do think they are a bit of a novelty.

Oblomov Sat 22-Feb-14 12:57:28

There's one near us. Reception mum runs it. I think it's fab.
But I wouldn't want my child there for many days, especially not in winter.
I would split their care between a normal pre-school and this.
I would want my child in the warm, doing puzzles, sand, painting, whilst snugly warm. Maybe for 2 days. With one day at the nature.

Skogsblomma Tue 10-Feb-15 23:24:57

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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