Nature Kindergartens originated in Europe in the early 19th Century as a way of learning about the natural world. By the 1980s this concept became an integral part of the Danish Early Years Programme. The concept of Forest Schools originated from the Scandinavian Education system with the idea of encouraging and inspiring children through positive outdoor experiences. The Scandinavian model puts children firmly in control of their own learning and adults assist and facilitate their play. Being outside is embedded in the ethos of many European nurseries and most children spend a day a week in the outdoor environment. The development of Forest School began in the mid 1990's and was brought to England by staff of Bridgwater College, following an exchange visit to Denmark in 1993. In 1995 a group of students, nursery nurses and lecturers from the College began to apply the same principles to childcare provision back in Somerset following the visit. In doing so, they became the pioneers of the Forest School concept in the UK. Forest School was born! Since then there has been growing interest and demand for this provision as Forest School fits well both with traditional views of 'good' early childhood education and more recent curriculum frameworks in England and Wales.
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers individuals of any age, regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence, self-esteem and gain skills through hands on learning experience in a natural environment. We are delighted to be able to offer all children this experience in the onsite wilderness garden in our Nursery School. There are planned days every week for children to use the area with a fully qualified Level 3 Forest School practitioner. Children are provided with waterproof suits and wellington boots for days when the British weather is inclement, but this doesn’t deter our enthusiasm and excitement to get outside and learn through the natural world.
"Children have a natural affinity towards nature, dirt, water, plants and small animals
attract and hold children's attention for hours, days even a lifetime"
Forest School is an inspirational educational ethos that focuses on developing children's personal, social and emotional development through regular outdoor woodland experiences. The ethos of Forest Schools is to allow children the time and space to develop skills, interest and understanding through a range of activities which provide practical, hands-on experiences in a natural environment. Children will use tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour both physical and social, grow in confidence and self-esteem and become self-motivated. Adults are positive role models for children and use these opportunities to observe their learning which can then be developed further.
Forest Schools provide an encouraging, inspiring environment where children can learn using all their senses to explore and investigate the world around them where they can grow in self-esteem, worth, independence and confidence. At Hirst Wood we echo the thoughts of Margaret McMillan from 1925 who believed
“The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky.”