Forest schools help to encourage physical development and wellbeing in many different ways. Physical exercise helps release endorphins to help us feel better, it allows us to get our required daily intake of vitamin D by being out in the day light and sunshine, it can help fight fatigue and restore our immune system. Forest schools can also help to build friendships, it encourages team work and can build relationships. It allows thinking time from the daily challenges of our daily routines and can give breathing and thinking space allowing its users to self-focus and can offer a reflection process to help rebuild and refocus on our wellbeing. It also helps developments in many ways such as physical development in gross motor skills which are enhanced during climbing & balancing activities when tree climbing and natural obstacles courses made by the children, running activities during hide and seek games, lifting, carrying and dragging during shelter building. Fine motor skills are also developed during activities such as striking a fire steel, lashing & knot tying, using a peeler or knife when whittling or preparing a feather stick for a fire and using a small beating hammer when leaf printing.
Forest school activities are child lead, they are trusted by the forest school leaders and given responsibilities to make their own decisions which helps to build Self-worth and boost Self-esteem during forest school sessions which allows them to transfer these skills into their everyday lives. These skills are small and achievable for each child with an end result. As a child’s confidence increases their self-image is also enhanced and this in turn helps to build their emotional intelligence and can help build their resilience and a can do attitude towards tasks they never thought possible. All of the above work towards positive mental health and well-being by feeling loved, that each child has a sense of purpose and will end up feeling a great sense of achievement and a belonging to a group who listens and respects them. At forest school there are no predetermined outcomes, this means that children are not judged or graded in anyway and therefore their self-esteem and self-worth increases resulting in stronger outcomes for the child.
What we have been up to
So we thought it was time to give you a bit of an update on our Forest School and share some pictures of what to expect when you come to visit. In January 2020 we started to carry out work on the site we are renting for Forest School and other activities we will be delivering. You can see from the pictures below that we have been doing a lot of work to make the site accessible for all and usable for our sessions. We started work early in the year but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the work had to be placed on hold for several weeks so we are a little behind where we hoped to be but are now starting to catch up again.
A lot of ground work has had to go into the main site adding drainage to take excess water away during rain fall, we have added steps to the steep bank and placed the first lot of seating (more to come soon). You may be thinking looking at the pictures that there is no canopy to keep you dry during the sessions? We have made the canopy easily removable due to an early theft of one that we put up, so when you come to visit there will be a large 5m x 5m canopy suspended in the trees to keep you nice and dry.
You will see in the picture we have a fire pit where we will be doing cooking, making hot drinks and keeping you warm during your visit, we are in the process of also building a cooking shelter and log store and these will appear in the next few weeks as the site continues to progress. We have improved access by strimming paths and marking them out using natural materials as you come into the site. There is still lots of work and maintenance to do such as making a target sports area (archery and axe throwing) orienteering, geo-caching and much more and we hope for these to be in place within the next month or so. So as you can see we have been working hard so that when we can open you can enjoy much better surroundings and have a better more enjoyable experience.
We now have an onsite portable camping toilet and tent for use during the sessions (which is constantly cleaned and maintained for hygiene purposes), we have started to develop our team building are and we have our own target sports range for archery and axe throwing sessions. Very soon we will be adding a geo-cache trail and onsite orienteering. Things are coming along really well since the easing of the lockdown rules, but there is still a long way to go which is why we will keep doing our bit to help the spread of the virus.
As we continue to make improvements we will keep you updated with regular posts and we hope to see you soon popping by for a visit.
From this 8/01/2020
To this 9/06/2020