We started Forest School at Merton Court in September 2012. It is a concept that originated in Scandinavia in the 1950’s. The philosophy of Forest School is that the outdoors is used to facilitate learning. It encourages the children to have an awareness and respect for the outdoor environment and nature.
Children are encouraged to develop independence skills, improve their decision making and raise their self- esteem through small achievable tasks.
Self-esteem is a critical aspect of child development. Forest school promotes confidence through positive praise and recognising personal success.
“Head, hand, heart” is central to the ethos of Merton Court School. We believe this incorporates a holistic approach to the development of the whole child. Forest School fully embeds this concept. The activities planned are based on the children’s interests and their developmental needs. The children are encouraged to explore the area and this allows them to use many of their senses. As the children attend more sessions their understanding of Forest School also develops, they become able to recall the Forest School rules and manage their learning independently. Over time the children develop a feeling of “Our Forest School” which helps to build a sense of community and responsibility within the children. Forest School at Merton Court seeks to ensure that all pupils have access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.
Sessions at Forest School are child led to accommodate individual learning styles and schemas; children are encouraged to make choices and follow their own learning. The adults’ role is facilitative and enables observation and assessment of the children by the qualified Forest School leaders, who are assisted by the teachers and assistants.
Teachers, practitioners and parents involved with children who have participated in Forest School in other settings, report significant improvements in independence, self-esteem, social skills, concentration levels and the ability to work co-operatively with peers and adults.
We invite parents to an annual Forest School Session where they are able to receive hands-on experience which is led by their child. Children from EY-J3 have a weekly Forest School session and we also hold an additional Forest School Club after school for the J3 and Seniors.
We have found by giving children the combination of freedom and responsibility in a safe environment they have become more confident, inquisitive and able to manage risks for themselves.