Forest Beginnings

I will be holding forest school sessions at St John’s School Kingston Upon Thames, starting January 2018. Currently they will be for specific students. The plan is to offer broader sessions across the school once funding is secured. We have a great site spread over 60m x 15m. It includes a purpose built shelter, a shed and even a working tap – as well as plenty of trees and bugs!

Yesterday was a great day as we had many volunteers help clear the site of anything that didn’t belong in a forest (a public footpath runs alongside and rubbish is often thrown/blown over the fence) in readiness for it’s first session. It was lovely to see the interest shown in the project. Here’s a little bit of fun video of the site being cleared.

Fires and Tools

Just a note on fires and the use of tools

Bushcraft and fires can be an essential part of Forest School. I use tools and fires in my sessions. I only do this when I think it appropriate to the children’s level of learning. I need to feel confident the children will respond well and be confident in the rules surrounding the use of tools and fire. The introduction of these to the sessions are an indicator that the children are responding well to the Forest School ethos.

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Information for Parents

This information is for parents of children about to start attending my sessions at a school.

Forest School is a process that offers all types of learners opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self esteem through different types of learning in the enveloping environment of a woodland. www.forestschooling.co.uk and your school have developed a program of activity to help your child achieve their full potential. The project is child led and designed to be fun. Whilst at the sessions they can climb, jump, build, create, sit quietly, reflect, think, run, discover, and most importantly grow; at their pace.

Below is some guidance on what your child should wear and a consent form for you to fill out and submit in order for your child to attend. I look forward to welcoming them to the sessions!

Stephen Simpson (Forest School Leader)

What to wear

We will be out in the forest whatever the weather. I have put together a simple guide of what your children will be expected to wear over their school uniform when participating in Forest School.

  • 1 Pair fully waterproof trousers
  • 1 Fully waterproof coat with hood
  • 1 Pair of wellies

My son attends forest school and I have learnt the waterproofs need to be tough. I find a pair of waterproof dungarees are ideal as he often doesn’t wear his coat when it’s not raining and they help protect his uniform. I buy his waterproofs online at www.muddyfaces.co.uk and find “Togz” to be great quality.

 

Consent Form

Please fill out and submit the consent form below in order for your child to be able to take part in forest school activities:

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New report by ADHD Foundation

A useful report from The ADHD Foundation for parents of and workers with children of ADHD children. I believe Forest School is the perfect environment to help children with ADHD.

The report looks at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children across the UK. It gives an insight into its impact and what must be done to achieve equity for these particularly vulnerable children, so they might be able to reach their exceptional potential as they progress into adulthood.

Click on image to view report

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My Forest School

My Forest School is a process that offers all types of learners opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self esteem through different types of learning in the enveloping environment of a woodland. It is child led and designed to be fun. Whilst at the sessions the children can climb, jump, build, create, sit quietly, reflect, think, run, discover, socialise, learn, connect and most importantly grow; at their own pace.

I centre on the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional and social needs of the children, in other words – their holistic development.  This in turn helps foster resilient, confident, independent and creative learners

6 Principles

I am a member of The Forest School Association and as such follow their Principles and criteria for good practice. These are…

  1. Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School
  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.
  3. Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
  4. Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
  5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
  6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning

You can see an expanded list on their website here 

 

My Son

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I have a six year old son who is described as having special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs (SEN) – It implies there’s something wrong with your child, doesn’t it? They’re somehow different from what’s ‘normal’

I don’t view it as a special educational need. It’s just an individual need. We are all individuals aren’t we? I’m not the same as you and your child is not the same as mine. So why do some people think all children should be the same in a classroom environment, why do some people think all children will achieve the same things at the same age and then should be tested on these things to be compared with their peers. Why should one child be the same as another? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Forest School

Our son, who we adopted, has all the letters after his name, He has An ECHP and ADHD, ODD, SPD, you know – the letters that are given to someone ‘special’. It’s a shame we need to collect and acquire these letters to get people to understand he is an individual and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

He is currently flexi-schooled, a combination of traditional schooling mixed with Forest School and a day of home school too. His school, his Learning Support Assistant and the SENCO have been amazing in providing support and allowing him to be individual.

He developed self esteem and confidence in his abilities to try and do new things.

We have found Forest School helps him to explore his needs in his own time and when he has been ready to do so. He developed self esteem and confidence in his abilities to try and do new things. He was no longer scared or anxious about failing, loosing or not succeeding. He is now proud of himself when he achieves and he no longer feels worried to be so. He wasn’t ‘special’ in the forest, he was a child allowed to be a child and was able to climb, jump, build, create, run, discover, and most importantly grow; at his pace . It impacted his life so much and made such a positive difference to him. It was the reason I wanted to become a Forest School Leader myself, I had to find out and do more about it.

He still attends, it’s a is a way of life for him, it’s the thing he looks most forward to on a weekly basis. Recently, he told me they made a fire, which he was allowed to help light. He even made and drank nettle tea. Not something he’d get up to in an everyday classroom.

There is of course a place for formal education, but aren’t there different ways of teaching it? This is exactly what Forest School does. The child is in charge of learning and the staff are led by and nurture that child on his or her journey. I feel that this type of learning is perfect for our children, especially those with lots of letters after their name!

Don’t misunderstand me, our child is special. Special as a son, as a human, as an individual and special because he is different and that should be cherished and celebrated, which it is, by all at Forest School.

Stephen