All children who attend Pre-School are given the opportunity to take part in Forest School sessions once a week throughout the whole of the year before they start school. These sessions can be taken as part of your free entitlement funding. We are very proud to have been awarded "Recognised Forest School Provider Status" by the Forest School Association, the first Early Years setting in the country to gain this accreditation.
So, what is Forest School?
"Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland setting." - The Forest School Association.
At St Mary’s Pre-school one of our aims is to “support children’s development in a broad, balanced and holistic way” and we believe that Forest School is a perfect way to achieve this. Forest School takes place outside whatever the weather (other than when it is blowing a gale or there is a thunderstorm) throughout the whole academic year. Children have the opportunity to experience woodland crafts, art, storytelling, outdoor cooking, natural history, role play, games and teamwork activities, and generally gain a closer connection with the natural environment.
Forest School is predominantly child led and without the presence of prescriptive "toys" and resources designed for a particular purpose, we find that children's creativity is unleashed as they make use of the natural resources around them to create props for their role play or tools to fulfil a particular function. In the past we have had a "wedding" taking place in a church built with branches, the bride made herself a dress out of ferns and a headdress of twisted ivy - nettle crisps were served at the reception!
At Forest School children often take part in activities which contain an element of risk, such as tree climbing, using tools or fire lighting. All risks are carefully assessed and managed by our experienced staff but children also learn to manage the risks themselves, thus building confidence, self esteem and resilience. Much research has been carried out into the benefits of Forest School, if you would like to learn more, please visit the Forest School Association.
We are very proud to have been awarded "Recognised Forest School Provider Status" at St Mary’s Pre School by the Forest School Association and to be the first Early Years setting in the country to gain this accreditation. Our staff are sought after to work in a range of early years and primary school age settings.