Each child is unique and it is highly unlikely all children will need support with the same need at any particular time. When planning sessions though it is important to consider how activities will provide opportunities for development of each of these areas. Sessions should be planned to ensure they are flexible with plenty of opportunity for child led activities that feature open and explorative play.
The forest school environment and ethos are both particularly well suited to holistic development. A large and diverse environment to explore provides myriad opportunities for captivating the interest of all learners. The environment changes with the seasons providing regular changes in the opportunities on offer and the ethos encourages exploration of and interaction with this environment in a way and at a pace that suits the individual.
Listed below are examples of ways in which forest school sessions can be used to support development in different areas.
- Allow and encourage children to lead activities and to support each other with activities.
- Play games that rely on non-verbal communication or set challenges, such as tower or bridge building, for children to complete together without speaking.
- Place children in different groups to give them experience of communicating with others of different ages, abilities and backgrounds.
- Provide opportunities for children to develop fine motor skills such as craft activities, use of knots and whittling.
- Provide opportunities for children to develop gross motor skills such as hiding games, obstacle courses and tree climbing.
- Share knowledge and experience with the children. Encourage them to talk about their interests and experiences and take an active interest in them.
- Provide a variety of activities to support children in learning and mastering new skills.
- Set challenging but achievable activities to develop personal satisfaction in achievements.
- Child led activities that allow learners to take ownership of the sessions will help develop satisfaction and and enrichment.
- Use reflective activities at the end of sessions that encourage mindfulness and self awareness.
- Where possible and appropriate try to avoid interfering in conflict between children and give them the opportunity to develop conflict management skills.
- Encourage children to express their individual points of view and beliefs.
- Place children in different groups to give them experience of communicating and working with others of different backgrounds, religions or beliefs.