Nature friendly Schools
In collaboration with The Mersey Forest, we have been delivering a Forest School programme to a number of Primary schools across Merseyside during spring term 2020, before the global pandemic interrupted delivery of the sessions.
Over the duration of the four-year project thousands of children across the UK will be given the opportunity to get closer to nature which will benefit their learning, health and wellbeing. It will fuel creativity and a sense of adventure, allowing pupils to experience the joy that nature can bring, and help to develop teachers’ confidence to embrace and drive forward outdoor learning in their own schools.
Working with schools in Liverpool, Halton and Chester who have not previously engaged in forest school activities, GROW-Wellbeing has introduced many children and teachers to nature connected crafts, woodland skills and learning about the beauty and value of nature. We look forward to working with the schools, children and teachers just as soon as restrictions allow us to deliver sessions safely.
Wavertree CofE School, Liverpool, evaluation from Head of EYFS
At the beginning of the six weeks, we had 15 children that had had very little experience learning in the outdoors. A lot of the children do not even have a back garden, and so this was a completely new experience for some.
Duane and Laura were very knowledgeable about what was required in order to keep the children safe and were able to link activities to curriculum objectives.
All of the Prime areas of learning and some of the Specific areas were addressed during the sessions.
Both gross and fine motor control were developed through the many different activities including den building, building a bug house, whittling, threading, weaving, sawing and moving along an obstacle course. Children grew in confidence as they developed the skills required to complete all tasks. Children have become more proficient using tools, which in turn, has had an impact on their fine motor control for writing.
Communication and Language:
Forest school provided a perfect opportunity for children to develop their communication skills through the introduction of new words. Children opened up who previously would not normally speak in this non-threatening environment, to express their enthusiasm and love of the activities. We have seen an enormous improvement in speech and language development since Forest School started, especially with children who are selective mute or those who have a poor vocabulary. Listening skills have also improved by children having to follow instructions and also tuning in to the natural sounds around them, which again, has had an impact on phonics, enabling children to tune in to letter sounds in words.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development:
It has been very obvious to all concerned how the children have grown in confidence through their Forest School experience. Some, who would not talk or even participate in activities at the beginning of the six week, are now confident to talk and fully engage in the activities, as well as ask questions to aid their understanding. We have even had one of our children deliver the safety talk at the beginning of the session! Children now feel confident to handle many different tools, including saws and potato peelers. They feel safe around the fire and demonstrate an understanding about how to look after the natural environment. Some children have formed close attachments with our Forest School leaders, especially Duane, and they will be really upset not to see them once our sessions have finished.
Specific Areas of Learning:
Children have experienced a world that is far different from that of home. To be allowed to build a den, to dig holes in the ground, the look at and learn how to care for the mini beasts in and around the Forest School area, to use tools that they would not normally use, to make wonderful things out of natural materials, and to do all this in a wonderful outdoor environment, whatever the weather, in the knowledge that it is OK to get our hands dirty!
This has been the most amazing experience for the children, and we hope to build on the skills that the children have learned through Forest School in the months ahead.