Never has there been a better time to embrace the outdoors, switch off our laptops and ensure the happiness and wellbeing of ourselves and our families.
Once learning is done for the day, we are all encouraged to prioritise our daily exercise. It is well known that being outdoors affects mood and energy levels in a positive way. Adults and children alike feel more invigorated and awake after a brisk walk or some time playing a sport or gardening.
Here at Hatherop Castle we are fortunate to have 22 acres of beautiful grounds for our pupils to enjoy. In recent months, Mrs Houghton-Brown and the estates team have been creating a brand new, larger Forest School area for the Pre-Prep and Prep-School pupils to enjoy. This not only complements the recent addition of the Outdoor Classroom but also allows the Nursery Forest School area to remain uniquely for them.
So, what is Forest School?
Forest School is defined as “an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.”
At our Forest School, children run and make a noise, get their hands dirty and are exposed to manageable risk (essential for healthy development.) The activities on offer each session, provide different experiences that can help foster traits such as resilience, confidence and emotional intelligence that will support the learner throughout their own lives. In choosing the activities, we are inspired by what nature offers us in each season as well as the festivities celebrated at different times of year.
In Autumn, children can collect fallen leaves of every hue and make a rainbow from them or make a natural paintbrush with foliage from the evergreens.
Winter is the perfect time to observe animal tracks left in the snow or mud as well as warming up around a fire and making charcoal sticks.
In Spring, there is renewed life and energy in nature and our forest school activities would reflect this newfound curiosity. Whether foraging for plants, decorating a wood cookie man or making bramble cordage.
Summer is the perfect time to dig for worms, build shelters to provide shade from the heat of the day or make blackberry ink and feather quill pens.
Since qualifying as a Forest School leader in 2020 I have loved offering Forest School sessions at Hatherop Castle School on a weekly basis. I notice the children’s sense of awe and wonder as we sit at base camp and spend some quiet time listening and noticing the season changes. The inquisitive and often inciteful questions they ask and their passion for den building, tree climbing or digging for worms is testament itself to why these sessions are so valuable.
Forest School, like our lessons, finish with some quiet reflection time on their experience. This allows the children to listen to what others have done as well as play an active role in their own learning.
If you have any questions about our Forest School or would like to know more about its philosophy I would love to hear your questions.