The benefits of forest school
At Holly Hill Nursery, we value our time and learning experiences outdoors. From the beginning of Autumn Term, children in our Jelly Beans class will spend a full morning or afternoon every week outdoors exploring different Forest School activities. These are planned for by our class teacher and are based on a mix of our children’s interests and introducing new experiences where they can explore something new! From Spring Term, all of the children in the remaining classes in Nursery will take part in Forest School activities too.
There are studies that demonstrate that children now know less about the natural world than ever before in the history of humankind. According to the National Trust, fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, and one in ten can’t ride a bike. These increasingly indoor and sedentary lifestyles are leading to distressing physical and mental symptoms, including obesity (linked to low overall fitness levels), behavioural problems, stress and a lack of awareness of nature and its benefits.
Therefore, increasing outdoor time for children is the simplest way to tackle these problems and offers a range of proven health and wellbeing benefits. We are so lucky to be able to explore the outdoor park area that surrounds our nursery to carry out many of our activities. Outings to the woods and other areas of interest will also be planned for by the staff team throughout the academic year to ensure the children have the opportunities to explore different environments.
At Holly Hill we aim to be outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather (which is always risk assessed). There is scientific evidence to suggest that this is one of the best ways to address the inactivity that leads to obesity and other related health issues. Studies have shown that children have higher physical activity levels in greenspaces compared to non-greenspaces and that children who spend more time outdoors have better motor skills and fitness, especially balance and coordination. Playing outside for prolonged periods has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s development, particularly in the areas of balance and agility, but also manual dexterity, physical coordination, tactile sensitivity, and depth perception.
According to these studies, children who attend forest school, experience fewer injuries due to accidents. A child’s ability to assess risks also improves. Playing outdoors strengthens the immune systems of both children and staff.
What clothing will you need?
We will be outdoors every day, come rain or shine! Forest school takes place over a full morning or afternoon each week.
To ensure our children are comfortable and prepared, we ask that at the beginning of the Autumn Term, the children in the Jelly Beans class bring in their Forest School clothes to leave in Nursery (lists of suggested clothing below) in a named bag. These will be kept in Nursery on their pegs. For the Jelly Tots and Jelly Babies, these will need to be brought in to Nursery at the beginning of Spring Term (after the Christmas holidays). Forest school clothing will be kept in Nursery and then sent home at the end of each half term to be washed and cleaned. It will need to come back to Nursery at the beginning of each half term.
On sunny days, we ask you to apply a layer of sunscreen before you drop your child off at Nursery, ensuring it is suitable to be worn all day as we can not reapply during the current Covid19 pandemic.
What to pack in their forest school bag?
- Forest school clothing:
- One pair of comfortable trousers (jogging bottoms or leggings)
- One t-shirt, light long sleeved t-shirt
- One fleecy zip up jacket
- One jumper
- One pair of socks
- Wellies or sturdy snow boots (which you don’t mind getting wet and muddy!)
- A sun hat for sunny days
- Waterproofs (we do have some of these in Nursery but would encourage that you pack your child’s own where possible during the current COVID-19 pandemic)
- Base layer – thermals (for autumn/winter)
- Neck scarf (for autumn/winter)
- Hat and gloves (for autumn/winter)
- Extra Jumpers to be packed in backpack for really cold days
If you have any further questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of the staff team.