By Mrs. Amanda Freer, Head of Junior School
“I’ll be honest, forest school is one of the big reasons we chose Fyling Hall. The physical and mental health benefits of being outside in nature are so big. Jack is so excited to come to school on a Friday and comes home very happy. It is helping him settle into friendships in a deeper way than is possible in short break times. He learns about cooperative play, resourcefulness, innovation and is able to express his imagination and creativity.”
– Current Year 5 parent
Our Forest School
Our forest school really is just that; a vast area of woodland with a glorious track to a water mill, a den building area, a quarry and forest school ‘proper’ as we now call it, with a tree house and camp fire. It really is a magical place and all visitors comment, not just on the stunning views but also on how happy the children are in this environment and how they all mix and play together. We are truly very lucky to have this fabulous resource.
Forest school is something I look forward to at the end of every week. Our pupils love our Friday afternoon sessions too, indeed we often hear the children making plans during the week for improving their dens or a game they’d like to play. In a world where children don’t usually go out to play after school with their friends, forest school allows them the freedom to play outdoors in acres of wonderful woodland.
Learning Through Play & The Environment
In Early Years we appreciate the value of learning through play, and I strongly believe that this should continue throughout the Junior School. Forest school enables the children to play together, to negotiate, to be creative, to be outside in glorious surroundings and to have fun. How the pupils engage and behave in sessions and the amount of independence and responsibility given to the children by us will alter and develop as they progress through the school; a year one pupil will experience forest school sessions in a different way to a year six pupil, albeit sharing a similar fundamental experience. We try to ensure that the children gain full benefit from the sessions.
We believe that this natural environment helps to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world. A lot of the activities and play are child led and we try to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. The children take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves and learn to be safe in forest school.
Physical & Emotional Health
There are so many benefits to both the physical and emotional health of children who have regular access to forest school. The sessions encourage curiosity and provide so many opportunities for exploration of the natural world. Activities such as building fires or dens encourage children to work together and use their imagination and common sense. Mindfulness activities can be even more effective when in a natural environment and connecting to nature can provide children with a huge boost to their mental health and feeling of well-being.
Only in forest school can a stick be a sword, a cricket bat, a walking stick and a toasting fork! It is a truly wonderful resource that we are fortunate to use every single week. As our school motto points out, the days that make us happy really do make us wise.
I’ll finish with another quote from a parent:
“As I watch Harry climb off the bus on Fridays with rosy cheeks and laughter in his face it’s always accompanied with stories of camp fires, den building, games…there is also a lot of mud and bits of leaves, often twigs and stones in pockets and sometimes a tear in trousers after an over-zealous go on the mud slide….! These are a sign of immense fun, learning and adventure. The mud washes off, the memories will last forever.”
– Junior School Parent