History of Forest School
The ethos of Forest Schools started in the 1950’s in Sweden; by 1980’s Denmark was running sessions for preschool children. The UK became aware of the concept after some students from Bridgewater College (in Somerset) went to Denmark in 1993 and they were inspired by their ‘Naturbornhaven’ and ‘Skogsbornehaven’ which allowed the children to play outside, manage risks, make decisions and learn about nature. They saw the positive effect it had on their confidence, knowledge and appreciation of the environment, social skills and resilience.
Forest schools is the name the UK has given this approach to outdoor child-led play and exploration. Forest Schools was introduced at a time when many parents and educators were becoming increasingly discouraged by the national curriculum. The national curriculum was introduced in the 1980s and the focus went from child-led learning to a more traditional pedagogy. At a similar time parents were increasingly more afraid of stranger danger so there was less playing out on their own and more adult-led opportunities, this limited children to be able to make their own decisions and manage risk. This led to many people feeling like children in the UK were been ‘wrapped up in cotton wool.’
These frustrations and restrictions of learning and the culture of managing their children’s play helped the forest school movement to grow quickly.
Wild Things’ ethos
Wild Things is passionate about getting children and carers outdoors to explore, develop their imagination, and be creative.
Sessions are for children aged 2-4 years and their carers (babies are welcome to accompany their siblings). While Wild Things’ encourages sessions to be child-led there is always an activity or focus to help inspire, pass on knowledge and deepen their connection to the outdoors. Children are free to join in the activity or lead their own adventures and learning. Resources are set up to encourage their own learning, some weeks this might be some magnifying glasses, binoculars, dinosaurs in need of a den, a mud kitchen…
Activities include tracking, climbing trees, learning about nature, messy play, storytelling and singing, using their imagination and den building. The children learn how to move around the outdoors safely and how to take safe risks.
Wild Things also helps children and parents to slow down, observe, be aware and reconnect to the outdoors.