If you go down to the woods today – what surprises will you find? On a visit to our School, you will find not bears but excited children enjoying the wonderful outdoors and making all sorts of exciting discoveries. Schools all over the country are realising the value of taking learning outside, enabling children to connect with nature and providing an important and different type of experience in their educational journey. Here at Dean Close Pre-Prep we are fortunate to have our own ‘Forest School’ which provides children with access to a wide range of planned and child-initiated activities; children are able to collaborate on ‘projects’ such as making animal houses, being creative with the natural objects they find or painting with mud.

There has been much research to show that Forest School is of great benefit to children’s all-round development. Activities such as den building, creating trails, identification of minibeasts, plants and trees encourage critical thinking skills, independence, self-confidence and teamwork in addition to their growth in knowledge, joy and wonder in the natural environment. Children flourish as they are able to build on their enjoyment of each session and apply these skills across the curriculum.

Research has also shown that, in our ‘risk-averse’ society, enabling children to assess risk for themselves in the ‘wild’ yet safe environment of Forest School, means they are able to learn how to naturally judge a risk for themselves, (albeit a low risk that has been assessed by teachers) such as exploring and climbing over logs and uneven areas, avoiding brambles and nettles or using logs and sticks safely to make a shelter. They learn how to make their own sensible and informed decisions – an important life lesson for the future.

As spring is just around the corner, bringing with it the excitement of new growth and new discovery, let’s get our wellies on and take the children out and about to explore the great outdoors. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area, with countryside, parks and woods. A magical world is waiting, ready for children to explore!