Ever fancied getting back to nature with your little ones?
Exploring the great outdoors, building campfires, assembling dens – it’s all on the menu this month as Forest Schools Kindergarten hosts two opens days for Sheffield families.
Kenwood Nature Nursery's open day will begin at 10am this Saturday, running until 1pm. The Sharrowvale nursery staff will be leading the session into nearby woodland for some classic forest school activities, including tool-work and den building, before bringing families back to the nursery for homemade soup around the campfire.
A second session will be held at Middlewood Nature Nursery, in Hillsborough, on March 30, from 10.30am to 1.30pm – with hammocks, homemade snacks and nature activities.
Both sessions are suitable for children aged three months to five years, although older children adn their families are welcome to attend. There’s no need to pre-book.
The benefits of children being immersed in nature in natural woodland environments, have now been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on wellbeing.
Young children are stimulated by the multi-sensory experiences of the outdoors, according to Forest Schools Kindergarten, which has been running outdoor sessions for children in the city since 2014.
“Typically, over time, an increase in their self-belief and confidence is evident, along with improvements in their enthusiasm and capacity to learn, communication and problem-solving skills and overall emotional well-being.The Forest Schools Approach,” says Forest Schools Kindergarten area director Claire Owen.
“The Forest Schools curriculum meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, whilst giving children enhanced personal, social and emotional skills which better equip them for starting school.
“At Forest School Kindergarten, children are physically active a lot of the time which builds strength, stamina and dexterity. Being outdoors reduces the spread of colds and childhood illnesses and helps to build their immune system at the same time. As children gain confidence and self-esteem this improves their emotional and mental well-being.”
It is also believed that the ‘wild,’ but controlled and safe environment of Forest School, enables children to naturally assess risk and make sensible and informed decisions about how to deal with unfamiliar and unpredictable situations – such as exploring, climbing trees, or building dens. Much of the learning comes from the opportunities they have to test their own abilities in a real life situations – skills that are invaluable at school and in later life.
And people are paying attention to the messages of Forest Schools, with a growing number of UK nurseries and primary schools incorporating its concepts into their daily learning.
Claire adds: “Forest Schools allows children the space, time and freedom to learn in their own way, at their own pace. It therefore inspires them to be motivated and curious to learn. When coupled with the resilience to learn from mistakes and confidence to work independently or as part of a group, children leave the kindergarten with all the skills they need for enjoying learning and for starting school.
“Studies have shown that children from Forest Schools nurseries progress better and achieve higher than national standards.”
Visit forestschoolskindergarten.com for details on local opportunities.