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forest school

The Forest School Approach 

Forest school is an approach to learning that takes our children into the great outdoors to explore the natural environment. 

Children spend time outside instead of inside the classroom to learn more about nature and to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Children learn through playing and the hands-on forest school approach gives them plenty of opportunities to do just that. Children are encouraged to explore and discover, and these forest school activities develop confidence, self-esteem, imagination and physical ability as they are allowed to test their limits in the natural world.

Benefits of a Forest School Approach 

Forest School offers a unique educational experience using the outdoor environment of the forest as a classroom. Forest School offers the following benefits:

  • Confidence: children have the freedom, time and space to learn and demonstrate independence
  • Social skills: children gain increased awareness of the consequences of their actions on peers through team activities such as sharing tools and participating in play
  • Communication: language development is prompted by sensory experiences
  • Motivation: the woodland fascinates the children and they develop a keenness to participate and the ability to concentrate over longer periods of time
  • Physical skills: these improvements are characterised by the development of physical stamina and gross and fine motor skills
  • Knowledge and understanding: the children develop an interest in the natural surroundings and respect for the environment

Forest School at Heathfield Preparatory

One of the features which makes Heathfield unique is our incredible setting: few schools can offer their own river – even fewer their own waterfall! We have put into place a constant programme of developments which promote outdoor learning and enhance the outdoor areas. Our outdoor music area was set up a couple of years ago, and we have added new instruments at regular intervals. We completed the Forget-Me-Not sensory garden recently, and put in place a fantastic new trim trail. Easter 2022 we were very excited and proud to open our brand new eco-classroom.

Throughout the year, classes go outside, exploring  all curriculum subjects, from reading Pumpkin Soup whilst making actual pumpkin soup on the fire, to burning models of old London Town to find out more about the Great Fire; from poetry inspired by the autumn trees to the mathematics of natural shapes. The more able are challenged by complex practical challenges which require detailed working-out. For those who sometimes require more support in a given area, there is an opportunity to approach problems in a way which is not possible in a classroom setting.

We get to appreciate our immediate environment so much more by coming to a realisation of everything for which it can be used. We understand the challenges of managing the natural world, and we get to enjoy it more by understanding it more deeply.


Forest School