With a 2016 report concluding that 12% of children in the UK had not been to a park or natural environment in the preceding year, we’re proud of the outdoor play areas in our nurseries which provide the opportunity for children to get outside in all weather. As well as going out on walks to local parks or feeding the ducks, we’re particularly pleased to be able to run Forest School for our Preschool children at several of our Kids Planet settings.
There’s no doubt that the advantages of learning outside a classroom environment are boundless. Being outdoors allows children to express themselves easily and it’s this sense of freedom which is fantastic for a child’s development, both mentally and physically.
Forest School provides an opportunity to take children out of the Preschool setting and into an outdoor environment, where they can explore and take risks. Children learn to interact with the elements around them which helps them start to understand the world they live. Sessions involve games, den/shelter building, imaginative play, role play, construction, foraging and treasure hunting and lots of squelching in mud and splashing in puddles!
There is a wide range of benefits that Forest School provides and can incorporate all areas of learning as set out in the EYFS framework which we follow at Kids Planet. The sessions are open-ended, meaning that while activities are planned, children often find something else which interests them while they are there, for example, an old fallen branch, a puddle etc. When this happens, sessions can be adapted to follow this interest.
Forest School sessions are great for building children’s confidence and self-esteem. They are particularly useful for children who struggle sitting and listening for significant periods of time or who don’t enjoy mark making or structured activities. They encourage children to be involved in creating their own boundaries and rules, which is excellent for promoting self-regulation.
A further benefit of Forest School sessions is mindfulness and becoming self-aware. Sessions encourage children to look at and listen to their environment more closely or find a space to lie down and close their eyes. Children begin to understand what they can do by themselves. Giving them an opportunity to develop a ‘can do’ attitude, acts as a solid foundation for future learning.
Kids Planet have 96 nurseries across the UK, find a nursery near you.