My name is Chanda and I work at Monkey Puzzle Sidcup as the Preschool Room Leader and trained Forest School Leader. The environment in which forest school takes place have been risk assessed and a high number of adults will be around to supervise and to ensure safety is paramount. Children from our baby room, toddler room and preschool all get to attend forest school – parents are informed of the dates via email. We have an onsite forest school area and our preschool children walk to a local park with woodland for their sessions.

Forest school sessions allows children to take risks and attempt new challenges they would not face in a classroom. There are opportunities for children to try more risky activities such as tree climbing. This adds a sense of excitement and adventure for the children, who are free to explore and manipulate the environment around them using all of their senses. The weather has no impact upon forest schools, whether it be rain or shine, snow or winds, the children will be outside making the most of the experience.

Forest school promotes all aspects of children’s development and can even add new benefits that learning in a classroom doesn’t offer.  It also allows children to be physically active throughout the duration of their lesson, enjoying the fresh air and the new experiences the outdoors can offer. Over the course of forest schools, children’s stamina will build and children will become physically fitter, thus providing a healthier lifestyle.

Forest school offers an excellent opportunity for play and exploration, however, practical tasks linked to the EYFS are designed to enhance children’s development are what drives the forest school initiative. Many of the activities within forest schools are child-led, and the activities will follow the direction in which children choose to take them. They may decide to work independently, working on developing their own problem solving skills and creativity, or they may join up with other children and work within teams. This is excellent for children’s social development, as they will learn how to collaborate within a team, and how to share their ideas and to listen to others.

There are no limitations to forest schools and children are free to let their imaginations run wild as they attempt problem solving and exploration of their surroundings. In terms of emotional development, a child’s confidence will grow significantly through forest schools, and this confidence can then be carried into other areas of their lives.

Forest schools can help to promote a healthier lifestyle for children. Technology is becoming more advanced and more available to children as time progresses, and many parents will know the difficulties of separating their children from their beloved computer games and televisions!  Children who enjoy their forest school experiences may ask their parents to take them on outdoor and woodland experiences in their free time.

Overall, forest schools are a brilliant way of taking children and learning out of the classroom, and re-introducing them to the outdoors whilst helping all areas of their development. Children enjoy the freedom of directing their own learning without inhibitions and exploring and experiencing a new environment.