What is Forest School?
Forest School is a weekly half-day session out in the woods, in all weathers and in all seasons. Children experience the cycles of nature. Forest School is run in small groups so that the children can immerse themselves in the natural environment without dominating it.
Forest School offers a child-centred learning process that encourages play, exploration and supported risk taking.
Forest School develops confidence and self-esteem through learner-inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.
Who provides our Forest School?
Forest School sessions are led by specially trained leaders accredited by the Forest School Association. Find out more about Tree House Learning here
Where do we do Forest School?
All groups of children travel by 65 Bus to Ham Common Woods.
Why do we do Forest School? What are the benefits?
Forest School enhances engagement with learning: “Academic research shows that active play is the natural and primary way that children learn” (Sir Ken Robinson (1950-2020), expert in education, creativity and human development). Forest School therefore, helps participants to become, healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners.
Forest School develops key skills for life - it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.
Forest School creates a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try stuff out and take risks. We believe that risk is more than just potential for physical harm, but a more holistic thing: there are risks in everything we do, and we grow by overcoming them. Our approach to risk means that learners constantly expand their abilities by solving real-world issues, building self-belief and resilience.
Forest School inspires a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how a learner fits within it. Forest School gives children a better understanding of the environment, and increases physical and mental health.
There is lots of research out there to support the outcomes of Forest School, but perhaps the most important benefit of all is that our learners and teachers love it!
What does my child need?
What does my child need to wear?
There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
At Forest School we are outside for the duration of the two hour session whatever the weather. This means that your child must be appropriately dressed.
All year round your child will need:
Waterproof jacket and trousers or all in one.
Sturdy waterproof boots or wellies.
It is essential for health and safety that your child is wearing waterproof clothing at every session. The waterproof clothing is not just for rain but to protect against stings, nettles, brambles etc. We often make mud so even on a dry day they could get wet.
It’s always a few degrees cooler in the woods so please account for that by providing an extra layer of clothing when getting your child ready.
Winter: In Winter when it’s very cold your child will require extra layers than usual:
Feet: Please ensure that your children's waterproof footwear is big enough to have air circulation and ample blood circulation. It is better to have your footwear a little too big and insert an insulating insole rather than an extra pair of socks. Extra socks can restrict the feet and also the blood flow so let those toes wiggle freely!
If your child is wearing wellies there are great fleece wellie liners (wellie warmers) that are designed to line the boot rather than be worn as a sock. These will let the toes wiggle but add a layer of warmth. You can also buy thick, long wellie socks that will help keep the whole lower leg warm inside the wellie. Happy feet make happy Forest School friends.
Legs: Your child would do well to wear thermal trousers, followed by warm trousers (fleece trousers are great for this layer) followed by their waterproofs. Again, avoid restricting blood flow.
Bodies and Arms: A thermal layer here with long sleeves, followed by a fleece jumper (or two on a really cold day) and your child's waterproof jacket. Again make sure your child is not squeezed in too tight. Tucking the thermal layer into their trousers helps prevent cold air sneaking in where it is not wanted.
Hands: This is the trickiest bit to get right as this part of the body gets used a lot! If you have waterproof gloves, that is great. If not you can use any sort of warm glove. The gloves get heavily soiled as everywhere can be pretty wet and muddy during Winter. If you have more than one pair it might be an idea to send your child with a spare set so that if one gets soaked through they can put on the others to warm up.
Head and Neck: A hat is absolutely essential. Most heat loss is through the head - keep the head covered and the body automatically is warmer. Fleece lined is great as it keeps the heat in and is another layer to keep the wind out. Scarves are also great in case your jumper has a wide neck and is letting the cold in or if your child has short hair. If you choose to put a scarf on your child please make sure that the ends are tucked into their jacket so there is no risk of strangulation.
Summer: In Summer your child will require:
Legs and Body: A thin long sleeved layer underneath waterproofs. A t-shirt and leggings will do the trick. This prevents waterproofs from sticking to them. Your child may also require a fleece.
Sun Hat and Sun Cream: even though the trees shelter us the sunlight still gets through. Please make sure you apply sun cream before your child arrives to ensure it’s effective as soon as your child is in the woods.
Insect Repellent/Bug Spray: We are going into a natural habitat for insects. It can spoil a child’s experience if mosquitoes or midges bite them. Please apply bug spray generously to all exposed areas before your child comes out to the woods.