VIS is a proud member of the Forest School initiative. With several trained practitioners among the staff, the opportunities for the children to get out into nature are limitless and incredibly enriching to their learning and self-belief.
The program enables children to take ownership of their own learning and to apply learning from the classroom to a real-life situation out in the ‘real world’. Through Forest School activities, children have the opportunity to investigate their limits and understanding of the world around them while developing their teamwork and communication skills in an environment rich with inspiration to get the imagination going.
The children develop a level of respect for nature and the creatures they discover while playing and investigating. Children’s confidence in their own abilities increases exponentially with each Forest School session.
By taking risks and allowing for mistakes to happen children realize their own potential and how resilient they actually are. All of this supports children to develop confidence and to believe in themselves when dealing with their education and potential setbacks they face throughout their lives.
The Forest School principals are listed as followed on their website:
- FS is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation, and review links each session.
- FS takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- FS uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for being, development, and learning.
- FS aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent, and creative learners.
- FS offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- FS is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
The children at VIS have access to several different permanent sites around the valley. Different sessions will involve skills such as first aid and survival skills, whittling and knots knowledge, fort and shelter building, building of mini-worlds or bug hotels, orientation, plant and insect foraging, and research, teamwork, and much more.
Forest School sessions are extended by bringing the children’s experiences in nature to support their learning in the classroom. These include balance, weight, and classification during Maths lessons, using creatures and situations experienced as the basis for igniting the imagination when writing or investigating changes in material and application of force during science lessons.
By incorporating the real-life experience of the children in the classroom, we are enabling children to make more links between different subjects while using meaningful and personal memories thus strengthening children’s retention and understanding of new concepts. The children at VIS love these sessions.
Here is a short video of our Forest School coordinator explaining the program and its benefits. In this post, we’ll define forest school. We shall also discuss the benefits of forest schools in detail.
What’s Forest School?
It’s an outdoor education delivery model where students visit natural environments to interact with, and discover nature. Both learners and their supervisors can highly benefit from a forest school as we shall see later in this post.
What are some of the Common Forest School Activities?
There are many forest school activities that children can participate in as seen below.
Building a bug hotel
Here, the kids will be tasked with building an insect residence. For this, they can use old pallets, piled up crates with bricks in between the layers, or wood planks. Once the task is over, they’ll need to attract insects in their garden.
The child will have to exercise their creativity in filling any gaps in their residence to ensure their visitors (insects) are comfortable. Children can use shredded paper, cardboard tubes, and pebbles or feathers. They can come back every day to check if any insects have entered the residence.
The Duplication Game
To play this game, children need to go out and collect some items such as pine cones, leaves, feathers, and leaves. The idea is to search for a specific area for the same items and return to figure out how many they’ll have collected. This game is designed to develop a child’s observation and memory skills.
Make a Rock Cairn
Cairns are artificial towers of natural stones often built as a memorial or landmark. Making them is a good activity for kids. Here, kids collect different sizes of pebbles and flat rocks before piling them in order, starting with the biggest to the smallest.
Kids can even modify their cairn using a base of many small stones to check whether it’ll still stand. This activity improves fine and gross motor skills, concentration, and hand-eye coordination skills.
Potato Peeler Whittling
Whittling sticks is a good outdoor activity that can help kids meditate. Often, it involves the use of a knife which can expose kids to injuries. Replace the knife with a potato peeler to make this activity safer. Kids can use the peeler to whittle off bark from a stick and decorate it using a felt tip pen. They can attach a feather at the end to convert it (the stick) into a magic wand or drape it in white paper strips. They can also add googly eyes to create a small mummy.
If you have creative kids, this is a fun activity that will keep them occupied. It gives them a chance to play different characters such as royalty, woodland nymph, or fairies. Organize a walk with the kids and have them collect leaves, flowers, and grass along the way. They can then weave them to form a nature-based crown.
What are the Benefits of Forest School?
There are numerous reasons why your child should attend forest school as we shall see below.
It Develops Independence and Confidence
Maneuvering with a compass, building dens, and whittling wood are great activities that instill confidence in children. It also helps them become independent. As they navigate through the woods, children will be more excited and curious to understand more about nature. Forest school also allows children to discover new things and exercise their creativity.
It Improves Attention Spans
Forest schools comprise spending time outdoors for the better part of the day. Children who attend forest schools regularly are more curious and independent. Further, they have longer attention spans. Studies suggest that children suffering attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who spent time outdoors display minimal symptoms.
Being Empathetic About Nature and their Peers
Working as a team within a natural setting helps children connect and relate with each other better. It also helps them understand the importance of caring for the environment and one another.
Children will get Vitamin D
Vitamin D facilitates proper functioning of the body. It helps children absorb calcium, reduces inflammation, and prevents osteoporosis. It can be found in some foods such as fortified milk and salmon. However, 90% of vitamin D comes from being partially exposed to the sun.
Helps them Maintain Physical Fitness
Climbing trees and running around helps develop muscle coordination, strength, and aerobic fitness. According to studies, children engage in activity more in a forest school than they would in a school setting during physical education. One of the exciting physical activities children will enjoy in forest school is breaking away from a giant web.
To make the web, weave cord vertically and horizontally across trees. Determine whether the kids will play in teams or individually and select a rope buzzer. The buzzer produces a sound when a player loses their three lives or if they get into contact with the rope. Let the kids take turns to make it across the web while ensuring that no part of their bodies touches it.
If they do, it produces a buzzing sound and the players lose a life. They’ll then have to exit the game and go back to the waiting line for their turn. If a player navigates through the web the challenge becomes harder.
Developing Language Skills
In addition to developing communication skills with one another, being outdoors gives kids an opportunity to learn. There will be new things to see and this will help children increase their knowledge and learn new vocabulary. Drawing and writing in the mud is a fun and creative way of helping children to develop their language and literacy skills.
Being a Forest School Leader at VIS
By being a forest school leader at VIS you join an international team of child-focused individuals committed to change the lives of children. We do so by connecting them with Switzerland’s natural landscapes and age-old woodlands in an inspirational and unique manner.
In today’s modern world, children are overwhelmed by an education system structured around outputs and targets. The Forest school educational concept in VIS varies from the ordinary teaching system because we prioritize the children. The core of our work lies in children’s spatial rights and essential needs.
Joining our team of professionals accommodates you in the central part of a society of education professionals driving the change we advocate for. We collaborate with a team of experienced and knowledgeable experts who are ready to change the lives of kids. The team achieves this by collaborating to give the children the best experience.
Forest school’s education setup is quite different from the conventional school curriculum structure. Children get an opportunity to learn and engage in their favorite activities freely.