May 17, 2023

An Introduction to Forest School

Lauren Mills
Lauren Mills
An Introduction to Forest School

Forest Kindergarten’s originated in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Sweden. A lifestyle where children from 1 year can play and learn in the outdoors all year round, in all weather. 

In 1990, a group of early practitioners from Bridgewater College visited Denmark to explore the preschool educational structure. They were fascinated by the outdoor approach, inspiring them to bring the system back to the UK, setting up a small group creche. 

Later on, in the mid-’90s Bridgwater College created the first BTEC training for adults from different educational backgrounds to become a qualified Forest School Lead. 

The Forest School Association, a group of inspirational educational practitioners from all different backgrounds held the first national conference in 2002, where forest school was given its definition:

‘An inspirational process that offers children, young people, and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.’

Forest Schools since the 1990s have spread all across the UK including London for children in nurseries and schools to access and are still evolving. 


The Ethos of Forest Schools 

Forest School promotes children to discover and learn outdoors, developing au and wonder for the natural world. It is an inclusive practice for all and can be accessible to teenagers and adults. 

Forest School is all about following the children’s lead and their interests. Activities are mainly planned based on what the children are showing an interest in whilst outside.

The aim of the lead is to facilitate what is needed to support the interest. For example, if children are planning on making a swing, the role of the adult will be to provide them with resources to accommodate this like a rope. 

Also at Forest School, it is about giving children a new stimulus to explore and build a new interest. Therefore adults provide children with adult-initiated activities which challenge their skills further but ensure they are achievable. 

Forest School Approach 

Forest School sessions should be led by a qualified level 3 Forest School Lead and children should be outdoors for at least 2 hours a session. The Forest School Association created guidance on what key features should outline a forest school. 

Forest School is done in a block of sessions of no less than 6 and has beginnings and ends. It gives children the opportunity to problem solve and builds perseverance when challenges occur. 

Children will have an introduction in the first session and by the end of the 6 sessions, the children will have gained knowledge and experience of something in particular. For example, children may learn how to sit around a fire or whittle a stick using a pen knife or understand how to handle mini beasts. 

  • The role of the adult is not only to facilitate but to scaffold children’s learning when it is needed.

  • It is an important part of forest school for children to build self-esteem and self-confidence.

  • They are given the opportunity to explore independently and manage their own risks without too many interruptions from the adult.

What a Forest School Environment Looks Like 

Forest Schools are based in an outdoor area mainly an area that has trees such as a forest or woodland.

  • The area is called a forest school site with a base camp for the group to gather in the beginning to talk about the rules and code of conduct of forest school.

  • Around the site, adults would have safety swept to ensure it is safe for children to explore but will provide them with some challenges that will promote children to manage their own risk. 

Benefits of Forest School 

Forest school links well with the Early Years Curriculum and the National Primary School Curriculum. Such as:

  • Self-esteem

  • Confidence

  • Physical skills

  • Communication and language

  • Maths

  • Social skills 

However, Forest School's benefits go beyond the curriculum:

  • Their love for the natural world, life skills such as working with tools and fire safety, and science, understanding the natural world ecosystem or weather.

  • Health and well-being are also being strengthened as they spend hours a day outdoors in all weathers, building their immune system.

  • The space becomes a place for children to relax and unwind. 

Forest School promote families to get outdoors and spend time in nature and all its wonders. This is why this is important to Babbu.

There are tons of evidence on how spending time outdoors has an impact on our health and well-being including the learning that takes place.

At Babbu, we want to encourage you and your little ones to take advantage of these benefits. Enjoy some forest school-inspired activities that you can do. 


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