At Highfield & Brookham we are blessed with wonderful grounds that include large swathes of woodland which enables us to give the children a totally different type of learning experience to enhance their educational journey.

Forest School uses the outdoor environment to help all children learn. Those young ones who initially find the classroom quite confining are often the ones who react quite differently in the woods. They are usually good team players and can think laterally to solve problems. The success they achieve in the outside area then reflects back into the classroom and suddenly the whole school experience feels better for them.

Our children are encouraged to develop independence skills, improve their decision making and raise their self esteem through manageable tasks. Sessions of Forest School are child led to accommodate individual learning styles and children are encouraged to make decisions and engage with their learning in a way that suits them. Teachers who lead in the Forest report significant improvement in the children's independence, self esteem, social skills and concentration levels in class.

Over a period of time the children build up specific woodland skills as well as taking out the curriculum where appropriate in to the outdoor environment. From learning about repeating patterns in Mathematics at Reception level using the natural world, to investigating temperature change in Year 2 by building nests for a small creature the outside space develops deep memorable learning in a way that the classroom does not always manage.

At Brookham we have 3 fully qualified teachers who lead sessions in the woods. The class staff also take part and this gives them a chance to see their children in a totally different setting and hence take their skills forward in a positive way. A group of our parents have also chosen to undertake some basic training and come out with the children on a regular basis. They all report how much they enjoy the sessions whatever the weather.

Learning should be fun and should reflect different learning styles and the Forest School ethos certainly supports this in the most productive of ways. Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 go every week to the woods and children in Years 2 and 3 share their time out every three weeks but by this stage their skills are well advanced and team building, taking the initiative and learning to take risks safely all become an important part of the learning process.

More information on Forest School may be found in the ‘Forest School Handbook’ available to download on the Parents & Pupils page.

 

Forest School Poem

Splat! Jumping in the mud in the rain
Wet, drizzly, soggy, soaking
Rain drizzling on the grass
Water dripping in my tongue
Drops falling on my head
Dropping on my cheeks
Splashing in the puddles
Trees wet and dripping
No leaves, bare branches
Wet damp leaves
A ripped leaf
Drinking hot chocolate round the fire pit
I found a green-sap living stick
Two black rough sticks to rub together
Wet soft weed lying on the floor
Digging wet soft, soggy soil
Green moss on the tree
Mashing branches to find gold
The yellow is gold on the branch, better than gold!
Stirring, mixing, round and round
A cup-cake made of mud
Balancing across the bridge
Building a tent
I found a slug
A shelter for mice to keep warm
A tepee for squirrels
Look a wriggling worm
On a space ship to Mars-crash landing
Quick repairs, fix the engine -  boom- blast off
Smooth white stick, green bark curling back, whittling is hard
What shall I do?
I can smell the fire, red and orange
Black sticks burning, sticks crackling
Burning, bubbling fizzling
Heat shimmering, warm faces
Marshmallows tasting like stringy, sticky cheese
I wish I could have another one – delicious all in one gobble!
Shhhhh
Cooling water
Smoke in my eyes
Look at me
Can I try?
It’s so fun

 

Written by the children in Reception at a rainy Forest School session during Literacy Week

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