Forest School Principle 2
Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
A big part of what we do at Forest School is ‘hold space’ for our children and families, our Forest School site is a special and safe space that naturally promotes curiosity and nature connection by its very existence.
Sometimes I think attending a Forest School session is a bit like going on holiday! It gives you the time and space we all need to process and think, in a beautiful and magical environment. We emerge muddy and a little dishevelled, with our hearts full and our minds a little clearer. Our special Forest School space helps us to create a place inside us that’s always there and that we can go to when we need it.
The role of Forest School facilitators is not to offer a mini-lecture on the natural environment, but to spark curiosity through offering opportunities for the children (and adults) to connect with nature, to discover, ask questions, and ultimately fall in love with nature. Our role is not to walk though the woods and label everything we see. Our role is to show not tell, or even better to create the opportunities for the children to want to show us! Be it something they have found, made, seen, felt, heard or even smelt! Often providing the name of a tree or bug can end the conversation, instead we strive to continue the conversations and help the children to get to know the woods one interaction at a time, and if they like, we can delve deeper with a wealth of wonderful nature resources.
We also love to hear the names the children come up with for the flora and fauna that surround us. Current favourites are: the Dragon head tree, the climbing tree and Grandfather Oak these names create a sense of belonging and spark curiosity, imagination and a wealth of learning as the children notice the changes that happen to their woods through the seasons.
We hold Forest School in all weathers (that we can safely be in the woods) and seasons, although initially it can feel challenging to be out in all weathers, and to find the right combinations of clothing to stay comfortable, the benefits are worth it. As well as getting to know our woods in all seasons and all weathers, we also get to experience a beautiful frosty spiderweb, hear the satisfying crunch of jumping in a frozen puddle and experience the sound of the rain falling on our shelters. Experiencing Forest School is all weathers has taught me not to wait for the sun to shine, that nature doesn’t bloom all year round, that it’s ok to rest, take a break and come back when conditions are right, and I think that’s an important message for our children too.