At Upton Cross ACE Academy we recognise the importance and value of outdoor learning. We have developed a wonderful school forest area which children from all year groups are able to access regularly.
We have various staff who are qualified Forest School Leaders, and although we embrace the Forest School activities we are currently building a curriculum that uses the outdoors as an external classroom where children can access many other areas of the curriculum.
Research now backs up what forest school practitioners have known all along – that children and young people are stimulated by the outdoors and typically experience, over time, an increase in their self-belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication and problem-solving skills and emotional well-being.
Learning within the forest our children are physically active a lot of the time and their stamina improves as they go through the sequence outdoor sessions. Their experience can also help to lead to the development of healthier lifestyles as children ask parents to take them on trips to woodlands and green spaces outside of school times. As the children gain confidence and improve their self-esteem, this can impact on their emotional and mental well-being.
The ‘wild’, and yet controlled, safe environment of Forest School ensures that children taking part naturally learn to assess risk and are encouraged to make sensible and informed decisions about how to deal with unfamiliar and unpredictable situations (such as exploring or climbing trees, using tools to build shelters and dens). Much of the learning for a child comes as a result of the opportunities they have for testing their own abilities in a real life context.
Forest School sets learning in a different context for children where they can undertake a range of practical activities and carry out small achievable tasks. At Forest School children can develop their team working skills and also learn to become more independent. Those who are unfamiliar with woodlands and green spaces can become confident in using them and this can form the basis of a life-long relationship with natural spaces.
Learning outdoors helps children to develop their confidence. As they become familiar with working outdoors they can take their new-found confidence into school and into other areas of their lives.
Learning outdoors can be particularly effective for children who do not do well in the classroom environment. Children learn to solve problems and be creative and imaginative outdoors thus showing enterprising behaviour.
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