Forest school originated in Scandinavia in the 1950s and is based on the philosophy that children’s interaction with nature and the natural world is a very important factor in their development. Forest schools is a long-term process of regular sessions in a forest environment where we teach all areas of learning, but the focus is on particular areas of the curriculum. We believe that playing and learning outside improves children’s physical and emotional wellbeing and the forest school experience has been shown to be hugely beneficial for children with a range of emotional and developmental needs. Rather than using classroom resources and equipment, children can use natural materials found in the woodland and enjoy activities such as collecting sticks and leaves, tying knots, making dens, handling tools, using twigs to write in the mud, climbing trees, jumping across stones and building fires.
Bows and Arrows offers forest school sessions to children aged 2, 3 and 4 years old across all our nurseries. The sessions are inclusive and all children can access them. We do not charge any additional fees for the sessions and waterproof clothing is provided for every child participating. There are a number of Ipswich sites used regularly for the forest school sessions including Landseer Park, Chantry Park and The Dales. Most children participating in Forest Schools go on a short coach journey to visit Bridge Wood each week. We run forest school sessions every week during term time. We have short break in the winter months from October half term until February half term when no sessions are running.
Here is what happens at a typical forest school session:
⦁ Children will get dressed in appropriate clothing before leaving their setting.
⦁ The children and staff take a coach ride to the wood via each nursery collection point.
⦁ The children will walk to ‘base camp’.
⦁ Children will sit together on a long fallen tree and have snack whilst a member of staff sets up the area and conducts the risk assessments.
⦁ The Forest School Leader will talk to the group about safety, boundaries and risk assessments. Children will partake in this.
⦁ We will discuss what the children would like to do during the session.
⦁ Children are free to go off and explore within the boundaries.
⦁ At various points throughout the sessions there will be a head count and emergency whistle practice. This is to make sure children know where to come back to in event of emergency.
⦁ The group get together at base camp 11.45 for lunch.
⦁ After lunch, children will have a nappy change or nap if required.
⦁ At the end of the session we will regroup and reflect upon our session.
⦁ Together as a group we will return back to the coach via a short walk.
⦁ Once back at the coach, if needed, the children will remove their suits and return back to their setting.
To keep everyone safe, staff to child ratios for forest school sessions is lower than those in the nursery. The ratios are one practitioners for every five children aged 3 years old or older and one practitioner for two children aged two years old. In addition, for the Bridge Wood sessions, the qualified Forest School Leader will always be supernumerary.