Can you explain a little about the forest school approach?
“‘Forest school’ means different things to different people, but somewhere at the heart of it is the conviction that the natural environment is the best classroom that children can have. Woodland offers opportunity for the young to experience ‘deep level learning’ where the limitations and frustrations of the indoor environment are escaped.”

How are children encouraged to explore their surroundings, and how is this of benefit to them?
“Children are free in the woods to explore the world, discovering weather and seasons by direct experience, stumbling on all sorts of forms of life – both animal and vegetable. They are physically stretched in an essentially safe environment as they clamber and climb, allowing them to connect with the earth.”

How can children become involved in the garden at nursery?
“Children can feed the birds; they can sow seeds, reap a crop and prepare the harvest for cooking. They tend the garden as they do watering and weeding. All this provides occasion for developing physically, for communication and language, and for social interactions as well as understanding the world.”

Do they play outside come rain or shine?
“Most children enjoy being outside irrespective of weather. At least they love it in the sunshine and the snow. But rainy days offer the immense appeal of a puddle, and wind tempts us to try flying homemade kites or just throwing leaves into the draught of air.”

You mention cooking on an outdoor fire pit – how do the children get involved in this kind of activity?
“Water and fire both offer children great learning opportunities. So at Mr Noah’s Nursery School we encourage children to work on projects such as clearing a stream or building a pond. We use a ‘kelly kettle’ to make hot drinks in woods with a tiny contained fire, or children may be found toasting bread or heating a pot of soup on a specially designed Scandinavian toddler’s fire pit (a bit like a low level barbecue). Such things children successfully self risk assess and there is learning in that itself.”

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