At Millfields we pride ourselves on our care for the whole child, not just their academic success. We believe that Forest School offers children the opportunity to explore, take risks and discover the natural world - whilst also learning about their own capabilities and interests. Unlike other areas covered by the National Curriculum for which we have created set end points, the children in Forest School sessions will be very much involved in what they learn, for how long and what they want to achieve. Every session will involve the option to learn about what is happening in the natural world that week, a new skill to discover or develop, choice and free play. Children will have autonomy and control over their own choices and how they spend their time. We hope to inspire our children to spend more time in the great outdoors and for it to be a place of interest and comfort for a lifetime.
Led by a Level 3 qualified Forest School Leader, a typical Forest School session might start with a game or two as a group that could give some knowledge of the natural world whilst also offering the opportunity to take a social or emotional risks (trusting others, sharing thoughts and feelings, or maybe donning a blindfold). In each session there will be the opportunity for the children to practise safe tool use, build on existing knowledge and enjoy risky play. Forest School pedagogy believes that children need measured risks in order to develop the skills of judgment that will be needed to serve them well in life. We believe that children need to learn how to identify the difference between a hazard and a managed risk and that much can be gained from giving children challenges to overcome and responsibility from an early age. Children will create their own play and challenge and hopefully have a lot of fun in the process.
Research has shown that children often achieve an increase in confidence and have an improved sense of self-esteem through taking part in Forest School sessions. They often love them too! Increases in resilience and determination have been reported by teachers as impacting on children’s in-class learning, with children more willing to keep trying when they find something a challenge. We hope that at Millfields, children will discover the benefits to their own wellbeing of being in natural spaces, and that they will go on to become adults who understand the benefits of being in nature and what they can do to help protect it.