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What Is Forest School?

The first thing I was thinking during my conversation with Pam Gawith was - Wow, I wish they had the Forest School when I was growing up! But, before we get into that. What is the Forest School? To help understand the Forest School concept better, I organised an interview with Pam. She is one of the qualified Forest School teachers or practitioners at the Lemania International School in Verbier (LVIS), Switzerland. She’s currently involved in helping LVIS launch this new and exciting program generally aimed at Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) and Foundation Stage 2 (FS2) aged youngsters. For those of you not familiar with what age that is, like me, the ages between 3 and 5 years old. Pre-school, kindergarten, creche, that sort of age. Really little guys. Imagine a school where the little ones throw on a pair of wellies, a rain smock, and head out and do their school day in the forest. It’s basically experiential learning at its best. Pam describes an example day, although it sounds like by design no two days are the same. “They make fires and can cook in the class if the teacher feels up to it and the children want for that day’s lesson. They can climb trees, and jump in mud puddles if they want.  Another example of a day could be finding pine cones and talking about what they do, and how they help trees reproduce. Then, you might take those pine cones and make them into an owl, or use them in a counting lesson, or even a French/English lesson.” Of course, safety is of top concern but the children are taught to use their own common sense when it comes to what is safe or not. If they are climbing a tree and they start leaving their comfort zone, the teacher watching will guide them through their decision-making process while also making sure the children are safe and in no way could get hurt. This may make some overprotective parents shudder but as Pam explains, “Really, children have been playing outside for thousands of years. It’s the way they learn about their natural environment, and this is core to the ethos of the Forest School concept. It just works.” While the teachers may have a loose plan when they head into the forest for that day’s session,  the children are encouraged to lead the lesson. If for example while walking through the woods the group see a fox, the teacher may pivot and start giving a lesson about wildlife in the area. Another lesson could be about how the leaves change during the Autumn, the children could collect the leaves and this could be turned into a maths lesson or an art project as they take the leaves back to the class and incorporate them into a piece of art. Recently or maybe all the time, I had been thinking about how prevalent iPhones, iPads, TV’s and all the other digital devices are in my own children’s lives these days. Yes, in today’s age of digital natives the forest school sounds like an essential educational tool for all youngsters. Digital devices are far too prevalent, we’ve all seen examples of this too. The 2-year-old sitting at a restaurant watching an iPad while the family is eating together. For better or worse, these devices are everywhere in children’s lives. However, as the parents know, it wasn't always like that. We all remember growing up being outside nearly all the time. Video games? What were those? Computers were some ugly, plastic boxes that scientists or academics used, not us. The thought of getting the children outside in this day and age sounds glorious. So tell me, why have I never heard of this? I asked Pam. Why aren’t all parents clamouring for this? It sounds brilliant.   Well, the northern Europeans have definitely heard of it. The Forest School concept originated in Scandinavia. The approach to young education was widely adopted in Denmark in the 1980's as a solution to the lack of indoor facilities for preschool children. The idea is basically poverty proof too, meaning that any town can incorporate the idea as no classrooms are needed, only a nearby forest or park.  By the early ‘90s a group of education specialists and lecturers visited some Forest Schools in Sweden and witnessed the benefits, soon the idea started to take off all around northern Europe. Due to some recent publicity in the UK, the concept is also starting to gain popularity. A quick Google search for the term Forest School has the Guardian with quite a few articles going back since at least the early 2000’s. When will this program start at LVIS? “Well, basically, we are getting it going now. We have Celine who is actually just coming back from her leadership program in the UK. Once she’s brings back all of her knowledge, we’ll be rolling out the program. The program is bilingual and can go all year long. We’ve already been doing some sessions with the children now and it’s been met with tremendous success. Both with the parents and children.” The vision for LVIS is for the younger children to go out twice a week, and will be certain days of the week. There are some things that the children will need, like extra uniforms that would be required, outdoor wellington boots, perhaps a warmer jacket or rain jacket.  It will probably be set days per week," Pam explains. Some Essential Forest School Supplies Currently, there are 4 teachers at LVIS that have their certifications including one leader certification. In Switzerland, there are no qualifications necessary, but LVIS has these in place. As far as Pam knows, “we are one of the only Forest Schools in Switzerland that has fully qualified forest school practitioners, so it’s quite a big deal.” Having your young children take part in LVIS forest school is perfect if you’re in London and want to take a year off or so in Switzerland. The length of time you keep your child in the program is open, so it doesn’t have to be a full year but needs to be at least a full semester. Each session should be slightly different. As you can imagine, in Verbier you can basically pick a direction and you’ll find a new patch of forest to explore. For example, in the winter we obviously wouldn’t take the children up near the mountain or expose them to any dangerous avalanche-like terrain. On those days, we can simply load up the school van and have a lesson down in the valley where the temperature can be as much as 10 degrees warmer. So, how can you as a parent find out more about getting your young children involved in one of Switzerland’s leading Forest School programs? Currently, the only way to have your young ones take part in this exciting program is by enrolling at LVIS. To find out more information about this contact us at the school by hitting the Apply Now button just below this page. If you’re already enrolled, or live in Verbier, just email us at the school (info@lvis.ch) and we will be happy to provide more information. Help join us in educating our children about the beautiful world we all live in, and what better place to do that than in the stunning Swiss Alps around Verbier.

International Week

We have welcomed visitors from Costa Rica, Brazil, Sweden, Australia, Greece, Morocco, Austria and Switzerland. We have learnt about all the dangerous creatures that live in the Costa Rican jungle, the Australian outback and made wonderful aboriginal paintings. We have tried Swedish herring and danced like Swedish frogs! We have smelled delicious Moroccan spices and learnt about the country. We have learnt about wild Mustang horses and silver mining. We have made and enjoyed fondue and gathered chestnuts in a beautiful autumn forest. What a busy week! Thank you to all the LVIS Parents who participated in this international celebration!

Forest School

The following was taken from Class A's introduction to the Forest School or Forest Kindergarten. The nature of education is to offer an environment fit for a child to develop their skills based on their needs. It offers them a space where they can exercise their motor, social, cognitive, and creative skills. The outdoor experience offers children a rich and diversified learning area. It lets them exercise physically, making them calmer and more focused when learning new things. It develops children's sense of community and teamwork. It also boosts their resilience and self-confidence. Being outdoors promotes their independence as well as their imagination. Children learn to discover nature and the living world through their different senses. This awareness will help establish a connection to this environment that they will want to preserve and protect. If you want to find out more about the Forest School or anything else about LVIS please feel free to leave a comment below, or hit the contact us form and let us know your questions.

International School In The French Swiss Alps

“Uggg!”  My eldest son Finn exclaims as we drive him down for his first day of  International school in the French Swiss Alps. “Do we really have to go to this new school?” he mutters more to himself than to us.  Because we already know. We’ve been apologising, profusely, for the rapidity we left our last International school located in the canton of Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. “Listen Finn, you know you can do this. You’re getting to be an old pro at being the new child at school.“ We try and reassure ourselves as much as him. Because frankly, he’s right, going to a new school is a frightening prospect when you’re 13 years old. Two new schools in as many years makes that even more terrifying.  Part of the “problem” is that I’m an online entrepreneur and due to the flexibility on where I can work, we’ve had our fair share of moving. We are a Bermudian family, both children born on the islands with strong family connections, 16 generations of roots.  After 8 years of living in Bermuda, we decided we wanted our children to grow up speaking more than just English and moved to Mexico. We stayed there for five years until our two sons became fluent in Spanish.  While Mexico is beautiful and a wonderful country, we noticed that things were just a bit too wild, especially for two already boisterous boys approaching their teenage years.  After living in Lugano for a year, the schools in Ticino were excellent, but we were less than thrilled with the unfamiliarity of living in an urban environment.  Traffic jams, no parking, and no real social connections, Ticino wasn’t feeling like the place to settle down for the next decade. We even toyed with the idea of moving back to Bermuda but as it had been a dream of ours to live in Europe, actually, a dream of almost every single North American friend we had. And we were here, in Europe. Our immigration visas already worked out, we owned a car. To leave after 8 or 9 months, it seemed drastic. In fact, it would be insane to leave at this point. We knew we loved the Swiss mountain life, because we’d been driving an hour each way to ski at Andermatt ski resort, and during our research we came upon Lemania-Verbier International School. So what does one do when searching for a school in Switzerland? Head on over to google and type in - "International Ski School in the french swiss alps". And up pops up Lemania, or LVIS. Why not visit? What we found in the stunning Swiss alpine scenery of the Valais canton was a lovely, familial school for children from years one through year nine, and with plans to continue to the pre-University level. After a weekend trip in February to visit, accompanied by some 30 centimeters of fluffy new snow, high alpine chutes and gritty tree skiing, we were done. It didn’t hurt that the French Swiss headmaster, Thibaut Descoeudres and his team ran the school like… well, in Switzerland, you can say it. A Swiss Watch. What we found was a fun, diverse and international staff of teachers, not to mention an international student body.  We knew we had finally found the right place. It’s now some months later and Finn, with his younger brother Somers, are thriving at the school. The memory of that gruesome first day all but distant for them both, as they take every Wednesday and Friday afternoon off to go ski with their classmates. As a part of their schooling!  The boys are now comfortable taking the free bus around town to and from school, to go skiing with their classmates, and to meet up in the terrain park and practices their 360’s and back flips. Simply put. They love the school, we love the school, and the decision to move to Verbier and LVIS ended up being one of the best decisions we have made in our lives. What’s not to love about a small school with a professionally backed team, following the IGSE British school system? They go to school laughing every day as they meet up with their mates from nationalities; Chinese, Swedish, British, French, Swiss, Dutch, Norwegian, Australian & Italian, to name but a few. For a school the size of Lemania, it’s surprisingly well represented globally. The fact that they’re now on their way to learning their 3rd language with smatterings in 2 or 3 others also solidifies our very tough decision to leave Bermuda all those years ago. Thank you Lemania family for all you have done for us.

Class B trip to the Château de Valère in Sion

Class B trip to the Sion chateau de Valere today was great. They enjoyed discovering what it was like to be alive in medieval times and loved the little rooms, staircases and passageways. Inside the building is the museum of Valais history, it is worth a visit! It covers pre-historic to present day history.

World Clean Up Day

On September 15th was World Clean-Up-Day and we opened our doors to the public to raise awareness about recycling, up-cycling, reusing and sustainability. External experts came in to hold workshops and students prepared displays and presentations to talk about our planet and our oceans:      To find out more about World Clean-Up-Day please visit http://www.igsu.ch/fr/clean-up-day/accueil/

Welcome back!

We were please to have the classrooms fill up again after the summer holiday and wish all our students a great 2018-10 school year! To kick start the year we went on a school hike to enjoy the beautiful mountain setting we are luck to call home.  

Music and French camp this summer!

Lemania-Verbier International School will be collaborating with the Académie de Musique des Combins this summer offering a week's Music and French course for all levels, for children aged 8 to 15. We are thrilled to be supporting this summer camp in Verbier run by violinist Justin Lamy and LVIS French teachers. Students will be introduced to a variety of instruments and have the opportunity to work on their instrument of choice. They will also make the most of Verbier and its surroundings through different outdoor activities during the week.

Camping trip for Class B

Class B students couldn't hide their excitement about their first camping trip together, and the spot was nowhere else but in a tipi in the stunning Swiss Alps!          

Mini Olympics day for Class C and D at Les Elfes

Classes C and D were invited to take part in a mini Olympics day with Les Elfes students in Verbier today, Each team had to create their own country and then participated in lots of fun activities despite the rain! The sun came out for the prize giving at the end of the day and students had a great afternoon!    

A visit to Torino

Torino is an interesting and beautiful city to visit, and only a few hours away from us. Year 7 and8 students had a great day out visiting the National Cinema Museum, while Year 3 to 6 ventured off to the Egyptian Museum. Not to mention the delicious Italian pizza and ice cream students were treated to!         

UBS Kids Cup 2018

Students travelled down to Martigny  today to once again participate in the UBS Kids Cup, a great sports day with local schools involving a 60m sprint, a 200g ball throw and a long jump. Goood effort!           

Football training in the mountains

Every Friday, boys and girls from Classes E and F join Coach Carter for a football practice. They work on dribbling, headers, chest bumps and agility training, ending with a friendly match. All this with our stunning mountain background.

Celebrating World Book Day 2018

Thanks everyone for making an effort to celebrate all kinds of books on World Book Day today! Students and teachers dressed up in their favourite character, and shared their fsvourite book with their classmates. It was great to have so many books shared in class and students had a great day exploring them, making art and bookmarks.      

Classes E and F get a visit from renowned artist in Verbier, Rosalind Monks

Year 7 to 10 students gain awareness of how art, design and craft is all around us thanks to a visit from renowned artist in Verbier, Rosalind Monks, during their weekley Art class. The visit really opened their minds to the different job possibilities there are as an artist, and they were intrigued by Rosalind's work as an illustrator, especially the way in which she gives objects another life. Rosalind's work is inspired by the natural world and many of her patterns are influenced by jewellery, textiles and tribal designs from around the world. To find out more about Rosalind, visit http://rosalindmonks.com/   

A visit to the Maison Cailler

Students explore Cailler's chocolate world from Aztec cocoa ceremonies to today's chocolate innovations...great day out at the Maison Cailler in Broc!

Artemis Interschool Ski Challenge 2018

Congratulations to our LVIS Ski Team who participated in the Artemis Interschool Ski Challenge in Pila, Italy, and came 4th! This competition is a challenge to Schools in Britain and internationnaly based school to compete for the Artemis Champion School Cup. Juniors, Children and U12/U10 can take part, and the points system ensures that they all compete against each other. The races are open to individual entrants and are run under British competition rules in order to qualify for British Alpine Seeding System (BASS) national seedpoints.  

Class B students learn about composting and kitchen waste

Today Class B had a visit from Eloise Vestberg, who runs Aventerre, based in Volleges. She is an expert gardener and came to us today to discuss composting and how we can turn our kitchen waste into something useful for the garden. Even if you don't have a garden you can buy composting products that you can use on a balcony. Some children already knew a little about this, but they were all amazed to discover the different minibeasts (insects and worms) that live in the end product and break down the food waste into nutrient rich compost. As you can see from the photos they were very engaged!    

We celebrate the opening of the Mountain Thyme Cookery School

Students are now having their cooking lessons in the newly opened Mountain Thyme Cookery School just next door to our LVIS. Children are learning how to cook healthy food ranging from easy suppers, healthy snacks and the odd sweet treat. We are lucky to have such a great spot nearby!  

Preparations for Mountain Day celebrations

Class E & F have been preparing with Elaine France for our Mountain Day celebrations. In class they have been preparing a short survey to ask people. Yesterday afternoon they went out to practise asking the questions and test the survey on obliging shoppers at Migros Verbier.   

International Mountain Day – Please join us!

On Saturday 9th December LVIS students will be celebrating International Mountain Day. Our message is PROTECT OUR MOUNTAINS. We all need to care for our mountains as the source of our water and biodiversity. At the current rate of melt, all glaciers in our local mountain community, will have disappeared in the next 80-100 years. We need to take action now! Come and find out how to do your bit to protect our mountains.

Students learn how to make cheese

LVIS students have fun learning about the cheese making process in the Verbier laiterie. The cheeses will be ready in 3 weeks!         

Jungle Trek with Classes C and D

Classes C and D had a brilliant trip to Kerzers last Friday where they walked through Papilioramas Nature Reserve in Central America thanks to Jungle Trek, an exact copy of the 8'800 hectares of the protected area of Shipstern in Belize. They met lots of different animals amidst tropical dry forests, mangroves and orchid ponds.            

LVIS students at the United Nations in Geneva

Year 7 to 10 students spent the day at the UN as part of a Global Entrepreneurship Week event. Young entrepreneurs from around the world were invited to pitch business ideas contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and selected panel of impact investors and experts provided feedback to young start-ups on how to promote sustainable and inclusive growth through Entrepreneurship. LVIS students participated brilliantly in the Ideathon audience session at the event. They went up to the stage to present their ideas with great style and confidence in front of 150 business leaders, impact investors, an Ambassador, team members from the UN and the entrepreneurs pitching at the event. Well done!  

Trip to the Aquarium with Class B

We had a great trip today to the aquarium in Lausanne today, and saw a wide variety of freshwater and salt water fish, as well as some amazing reptiles and amphibians. It looks like we are looking at empty tanks in the photos! This was not the case! The children will get photos of their favourite creatures printed out to use in our science and literacy lessons. A major science learning objective this half term is to identify and use the terms fish, reptiles and amphibians correctly. This trip provides a great introduction.      

Sign up to the LVIS Ski Cub!

LVIS Ski Club will once again be taking place every Saturday from January 13th to March 30th, open both to LVIS and non-LVIS students aged 4 and up. This is an exclusive club for skiers of all levels, with only five children per class to one ski teacher. With only 50 spots available at 400 CHF per child, sign up by contacting us via email on info@lvis.ch or by phone on (+41) 27 565 26 56.

LVIS students explore sustainability

At LVIS, we connect academic learning to real-world challenges, empowering our students to know how to be problem-solvers in the 21st Century. As a school in the mountains, exploring sustainability as a community is a key theme for each class: to celebrate and protect our incredible environment. From this sustainability perspective, each class is making the link to their learning in the classroom and on trips, enabling each student to use and develop their creativity and thinking skills. #creativity #thinkingskills #resilience #grit #sustainability #agentsofchange #mountainschool #youngleaders

Verbier Dragon’s Den

In English, Class D have been inventing futuristic modes of transport and writing instructions for them.  They worked in groups to draw and design them and today they presented and explained their products to the "Verbier Dragons' Den."  They were confident at speaking in front of an audience and received 'special cheques' for all their hard work!  Well done!!      

37th Olympic Week

Great day out trying out new sports at the 37th Olympic Week in Lausanne.

Agents of Change at LVIS

In September, Class E & F started their Agents of Change Programme with Flow In Action Founder, Elaine France. This programme is designed to connect each student to their strengths and creativity, embedding leadership and life-skills, as well as encouraging wellbeing. Students learn how to take action to make positive impact in the community through research and raising awareness. This term, the students are working towards celebrating International Mountain Day on 9th December at Medran. They have been developing innovative ideas for saving the glaciers, understanding who is part of the community and the key messages to share with that community to encourage them to care for our mountain environment. At the LVIS event on Mountain Day, supported by Elaine, Class E & F will be creating an ‘innovation ideas wall’ in French and English, by asking people heading up the mountain for their big ideas on how to save our glaciers. #agentsofchange #mountainschool #creativity #resilience #grit #thinkingskills #lifeskills #wellbeing #servicelearning #positiveeducation

Learning about recycling in Eco Club

Students are learning about the environment in Eco Club this year. First stop: the local recycling center!          

Studying leaves and photosynthesis in Class F

Class F have been studying leaves and photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the chemical reaction that plants use to transform carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen.                        Sunlight energy 6CO2  + 6H2O ------------> C6H12O6  + 6O2 Chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants) transforms the Sun's energy into chemical energy which powers this chemical reaction. If the glucose produced by the plant is not used immediately, it is transformed into starch and stored in the leaves. Class F tested leaves for photosynthesis using iodine which undergoes a colour change in the presence of starch. The black parts in the leaves show that starch is present, therefore the leaf has been photosynthesising in the past 24 hours. Students also looked at the underside of leaves to see if we could identify the stomata (pores) of the leaf. This is where carbon dioxide enters the leaf and also where oxygen leaves the leaf. Using our microscope with the USB camera, we were able to take a photo of the stomata. We were able to clearly identify the stomata and the guard cells around them which control whether the stomata are open or closed. This is part of the ecosystem processes topic.

Billy McCoo inspired art by Class C

Class C drew and then coloured with water colour pastels in the style of Billy McCoo.  Well done!

Our literary year is off to a great start!

Our literary year is off to a great start! The pupils from Classes E and F have been reading two engaging science fiction novels: The Giver and Ender's Game.   The Giver by Lois Lowry portrays a futuristic, seemingly utopian society with no pain, suffering, or violence. Over the course of the book, however, the community's dark side is revealed... Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is a high-energy read that makes it difficult to put down. It's packed full of many of the classic features of science fiction: alien invasions, predicting advanced technologies, a moral lesson which serves as a warning to humans today... Through this genre, the pupils are honing their analytical skills in literacy class by reading a variety of texts from this genre and by experimenting with tension and suspense writing using imagery. Debating and presentational skills are also practised as they consider ethical dilemmas and current issues such as cloning and climate change. #mountainschool #lvis #verbier #positiveeducation #creativeleaders #creativity #grit #findyourvoice #happiness #lovelearning #imagination #globalcitizens

Ozobot Robot programming at LVIS

Class C are starting to learn about computer programming by using Ozobot Robots, they are creating maps, with coding symbols to make the robots move in the correct direction. https://youtu.be/1HEqr7QZ65k

Happy Roald Dahl Day everyone!

Students dress up in their facourite book characters to celebrate Roald Dahl's birthday today, September 13th, and have a lot of fun in the process!     

First week back to school! (from our secondary school students)

"What a great first week at school. I'm very excited because it is a new year in a new building. I am happy to meet new friends and to learn new subjects like economics and music. I am especially happy to be one year closer to university. This week passed by very quickly and I am looking forward to the rest of the year. " - Thomas, Year 8 "Je suis arrivé cette année dans l'école, cela fait une semaine et je me suis bien adapté. La nouvelle école est magnifque, les professeurs sont cool et à ton écoute. J'ai hâte de continuer d'apprendre dans ce milieu." - Alexandre, Year 10 "When I walked into the  new building I felt inspired and I was ready to learn new things and have new experiences. We had new teachers that were really motivating and I was so excited to start a new school year. When we went to lunch there were so many choices  of wonderful foods. Break time is when you can relax and have fun with your friends too." Somers Wardman - Year 9

Kick starting the school year with our annual hike

Today we enjoyed a great day out hiking in the Verbier surroundings. It was a beautiful sunny day and a nice way to kick start the school year!                  

Our new Secondary School premises

We're proud to present our new Secondary School premises for Year 7 to 10 students and wish them all the best for the 2017-18 school year!

LVIS at UBS Kids Cup

Great day wat the UBS Kids Cup in Martigny. LVIS will once again participated in the UBS Kids Cup in Martigny, where they were able to compete against many different schools from the Valais region in three disciplines: a 60m sprint, throwing of a 200g ball, and a long jump. For more information: www.ubs-kidscup.ch/fr/    

Dragons with Kiki Thompson

Take a listen to Mountain Radio reporting at school with the students making their dragons. https://audioboom.com/boos/ 2540709-dragons-at-verbier- international-school

Radio LVIS with Class B

For your listening pleasure, the students of LVIS in Class B recorded with Mountain Radio Verbier today. Some great topics to listen to. https://audioboom.com/boo /2781513-the-first-radio-lvis-show

Open Day 2017

Open Day 2017. We look forward to the next!