It hardly seems 5 minutes ago that we were setting up our Forest School Project and now we are coming to the end of the Project’s 4th year in Manchester and 2nd in Liverpool.
Forest School provides unique outdoor learning opportunities through play and practical activities in a woodland environment. It’s about developing self-esteem and confidence, getting active and healthy, and learning respect for each other and wildlife. The key benefits include access to learning opportunities that children otherwise would not get in the classroom, in particular experiential learning, child-led activities, and improved communication skills.
This year, approximately 900 children across eight schools have experienced regular Forest School sessions with the Trust and we’ve had all sorts of fun. We’ve climbed trees, built snowmen, used tools, cooked pancakes, shared stories, unearthed animal bones, planted wildflowers, made wormeries, and of course we’ve got very muddy. Every week the children have new experiences that boost their confidence and their connection with the outdoors becomes stronger.
No child has come away from the project worse off but we’ve seen Forest School really benefit certain children. One such child is Ruby. Ruby recently joined a school in Manchester and found it difficult to make new friends, which had a negative impact on her self-esteem and confidence. Over the past 3 months, though, our Forest School Officer Trisha and the teachers training as Forest School leaders have all noticed an incredible change in Ruby. Forest School has given this little girl the opportunity to shine and demonstrate to her classmates her appreciation and knowledge of the great outdoors. Week after week she overcomes challenges and builds a variety of shelters using only natural resources. Her experimental learning style encourages fellow classmates to join her and work collaboratively on various activities. Ruby’s time within the outdoor environment has enabled her to develop a deep connection with nature and improve her social skills. This has helped Ruby both personally and emotionally and she now enjoys a positive mind-set when coming to school.