Forest school - Why? AIBU - probably?

(64 Posts)
perplexedagain Wed 13-Nov-19 16:44:05

OK looking for some people to explain to me very simply and without any jargon why forest school is so important, what children are supposed to get from this experience, the benefits etc.

DS did forest school in reception last year and it was OK - he came home and talked about looking at the trees and finding and learning about bugs. This year he's doing it again. The entire class has been out for the equivalent of a school day already and more to come.

I'm not getting the benefits. DS says everyone just runs around / climbs trees /or builds something with twigs (which is pretty much what they do every lunch hour).

Meanwhile I am expected to do homework every night - spellings / reading and support with handwriting. I feel like the time at school would be better spent on helping DS with these skills - DS still doesn't know how to form letters correctly rather than the extended playtime that is forest school. I don't even know if it's a compulsory part of the curriculum?

OP’s posts: |
redchocolatebutton Wed 13-Nov-19 16:46:33

being outdoors has great health benefits for eyes, fine motor skills, lungs, general fittness etc

HRH2020 Wed 13-Nov-19 16:51:23

Isn't it beneficial to develop an interest in nature and the environment?
DS goes to a monthly forest camp and they teach him independent skills such as knot tying, ladder making, fire lighting, making a camp and whittling.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Wed 13-Nov-19 16:51:29

Mine did cooking on fires, tool use, knots, den building, identifying things... Lots of interesting stuff.

It's the one subject my dyslexic daughter was equal with the rest of the class... In fact above expectations.

Done well it's great.

getthroughthisgrr Wed 13-Nov-19 16:52:09

Well do you take him out after school
to play in the woods or go for a walk on a school day ?

getthroughthisgrr Wed 13-Nov-19 16:53:08

Upper body strength is good for writing.

Velveteenfruitbowl Wed 13-Nov-19 16:53:43

It’s good for children to have time to run wild. It’s also good to get into the habit of homework. If you resent helping them just hire a tutor.


notmytea Wed 13-Nov-19 16:54:49

Forest schools are great for kids who live in built up areas and have no time outside. My DD is out in fields every day on dog walks, climbing trees, building boats to go in rivers etc so i found her time there a bit pointless really, she just ended up cold and wet!

ineedaholidaynow Wed 13-Nov-19 16:58:15

It's funny that there are so many parents on here who complain that children go to school too young and wish we were more like places like Finland, and then parents moan when they do things like Forest School which is more like what they do in Finland etc

Oblomov19 Wed 13-Nov-19 16:59:35

My friend runs a fabulous forest school. They have so many fabulous activities from marshmallows, fires, cooking, whittling etc, I couldn't list them all!

I'm seriously surprised you are even asking!

Squidsister Wed 13-Nov-19 17:01:47

ineedaholidaynow - I was just thinking the same thing! Whatever schools do someone will complain.

GinasGirl Wed 13-Nov-19 17:02:48

Forest schools help build confidence and resilience. They teach boundaries. Children are expected to make up their own mind about their capabilities (want to climb that tree? Go ahead, but only go as high as you are able to get back down) Forest schools are brilliant for team building. Then of course the education about our changing environment through the seasons. Why you shouldn't approach dogs, why we don't eat things we find on bushes/the floor, etc.
Why we need to tidy up after ourselves.
Names of trees/animals/bugs.
Count our group in twos. Put yourselves into groups of 3.
Imaginative play, story telling. Singing.
They love it!

perplexedagain Wed 13-Nov-19 17:04:57

To those asking - DS is outdoors pretty much everyday on his bike / in the park etc. we live near woods and we spend time there and in the garden. He loves nature.

I also wouldn't mind if they were doing activities like those mentioned upthread - skills such as knot tying, ladder making, fire lighting, making a camp and whittling. There is none of this. It is completely unstructured.

And I don't mind helping my son with homework but I do sort of expect school to have ensured he knows how to form his letters after over a year there!

OP’s posts: |
rededucator Wed 13-Nov-19 17:06:49

All of above plus Science, DT, Numeracy, Mathematics, Fine and Gross Motor Skills, Health - physical and mental, Team building, Problem Solving, Safe risk taking, literacy, language requisition, role play ...

perplexedagain Wed 13-Nov-19 17:08:19

GinasGirl - thanks for your reply. That's what DS did last year in reception but no singing or storytelling or structured activities. Just surprised they are repeating it again.

OP’s posts: |
KanelbulleKing Wed 13-Nov-19 17:13:13

This is just normal school to us. We're Swedish and DS's school frequently has visiting teachers from the UK to learn about how we do it. It about educating well grounded children who know about their environment and their place in it.

897654321abcvrufhfgg Wed 13-Nov-19 17:14:35

Until they have developed the required fine motor skills handwriting will always be tricky. Practise at home asking them to write lists etc, get them to play with play dough, Hama beads etc to develop the skills needed for handwriting. It doesn’t always have to be sat at a desk copying the teacher to be education.?

ineedaholidaynow Wed 13-Nov-19 17:14:52

Is it the same teacher with them in Forest School? At DS's old Primary School one teacher had training to do Forest School so will do Forest School for all the classes.

Moondancer73 Wed 13-Nov-19 17:15:43

Forest school is about kids being kids. It's about getting away from technology, getting back to nature, about team building and about learning to relax and unwind. The other skills they can learn are a bonus - every single child needs this imo, it's fantastic

Bsmirched Wed 13-Nov-19 17:16:09

My Y4s do it for a whole afternoon each week and have to miss a PE lesson. We are in a very rural area so these are not children who are strangers to fresh air! I am somehow still expected to fit in everything else. Yes they enjoy it but tgeyd enjoy any afternoon that isn't 'work'

Bsmirched Wed 13-Nov-19 17:16:32


noblegiraffe Wed 13-Nov-19 17:16:33

Just because your DS spends time outside with nature it doesn’t meant that all children have this opportunity so the schools are stepping in.

If they were in classrooms all day every day there’d be complaints about hot housing and only caring about academics.

Schools can never win.

bloated1977 Wed 13-Nov-19 17:42:46

God we can't win. We get told all the kids do is work work work and then when we do something slightly less structured and fun we get moaned at. By now your child should know how to form their letters. Are you working on it at home too?

GrotbagsBetterLookingSister Wed 13-Nov-19 18:07:15

It's so much more than a romp through the woods.

Done well, Forest School is great. They get to identity plants and animals (science). They get to build dens and create things such as dolls etc from natural materials (art and d&t). They get to measure, plot and record the features in a specific outdoor space and then draw up plans for how to improve that space (maths) and present those plans to the rest of school (English).

They do lots of other things in Forest Schools and, in my experience, it's often loosely related to the topic they're covering in class. Children get the chance to apply and develop the skills learned in class to physical situations.

Children enjoy it and gives those who struggle academically the chance to learn and to demonstrate their abilities and to shine.

Gazelda Wed 13-Nov-19 18:20:53

I believe that the Forest School at DD's primary was a hugely important part of her education. Maths, science, geography. Teamwork. Acting out parts of literacy books they were studying. Re-enacting history. Fresh air. Exercise. Improvisation. Resilience. Imagination. Creativity. Art.

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