Forest School at DSCETNS
By Paula Henihan
I am excited to be bringing a regular Forest School session to DSCETNS next year. This will involve taking the children outside for a 90 minute class fortnightly. The classes will be aimed at learning through nature in a safe but challenging environment.
Forest school is a formalised approach to learning that first emerged in Scandinavia in the 1950s, and has since gained in popularity throughout Europe, North America, and in recent years Ireland, with over twenty Forest School groups currently active nationally.
Outdoor learning like Forest School complements the existing classroom curriculum and allows children the opportunity to develop confidence, self-esteem, and practical skills through hands-on learning in a natural environment.
Forest School Activities
In Forest School at DSCETNS you can expect loads of fun activities and adventures like;
- building dens and other structures
- games and imaginative play
- nature crafts
- using tools for wood projects
- scavenger hunts, and other adventures.
Important features include the use of a woodland setting over a sustained period of time, a low child/adult ratio, close ties to regular curriculum objectives, and freedom to explore the senses.
I’m a Level 3 qualified Irish Forest School Association leader, and have taught Forest School with the children in Stoneybatter ETNS. I am still amazed by the excitement, peer support, creativity and wonder that the sessions bring out in the kids. Research shows that children who spend time in natural environments undertake more diverse, creative and imaginative play. This improves their sense of belonging and environmental stewardship. Physical skills are also improved by the challenge of dealing with rough terrain, and by learning to handle tools and equipment.
Here are some resources if you’re interested in learning more:
- What you learn at Forest School, The Irish Times
- Why children need to go into the woods today, The Irish Times
- Children should learn in the great outdoors, The Guardian
I’m delighted to be bringing the Forest School ethos to the kids next year.
Thanks Niamh for initiating Forest School at DSCETNS. Watch this space!