Forest school

Forest School at Brentry & Henbury Children’s Centres.
Children have access to ‘Forest School’ sessions throughout their time at the Children’s Centres. From their earliest months children are enabled to explore the outdoors with the support of trained Forest School leaders and the rest of the team.

What is Forest School?

Inspired by Scandinavian outdoor nurseries, practitioners from Bridgwater College in Somerset, pioneered the forest school concept in the UK in the early 1990s. Many early years settings and schools now use the forest school approach in their provision.

What happens during a Forest School session?

At the start of each session the children meet together with the Forest School leader to share what will be happening next. The children are then encouraged to get themselves ready for forest school by putting on their wet suits and wellies. They then travel to the site on foot and spend the session exploring the site and help to prepare and give out their snack. The adult’s role at forest school is to notice and extend the children’s interests and fascinations. At certain points adults may introduce a range of small, achievable tasks, materials or games, including hunting for minibeasts, mud painting, whittling sticks, using larger tools, building shelters and collecting fire wood. These tasks serve to build children’s self-esteem as they experience success using new and more challenging materials.

Before each session each area is thoroughly risk assessed by the Forest School Leader; further risk assessments are also carried out on a seasonal basis. Throughout their time at Forest School children are also encouraged and supported to assess risks for themselves. Children learn the rules: ‘No licking, no picking” to discourage them from putting their fingers in their mouths after they have been touching plants and also to encourage them to respect growing plants. Hazards are also identified clearly with red flags which the children learn means that these things can not be touched.

What will my child need at Forest School?

Forest School sessions take place throughout the year, apart from days when there are high winds or thunder and lightning.

In summer your child will need:
- A hat
- Sunscreen
- A long sleeved top

In winter
- A hat, gloves and scarf
- At least 3 layers of clothing e.g vest, t-shirt and long sleeved top.
- 2 pairs of socks (wellies keep feet dry but not warm)

Welly boots and wet suits are provided by the Centre.

How can I be involved?

Children attend Forest School for a block of 6 weeks and on the final week you will be invited to join them. During this session we like to build a fire together and toast marshmallows or make popcorn. If you would like to volunteer to come to Forest School more regularly please let one of the team know and we would be really happy to see you.

Summer 2014 also sees our first overnight camping session in the wooded area- watch this space for further events.

If you would like to find out more about Forest School:

Useful websites

The principles of Forest School:
Knight, S (2009) Forest schools and outdoor learning in the early years. London, SAGE publications

Visiting local woodlands for free