29th April 2021 — St Joseph’s In The Park school opened its Forest School area to toddlers, parents, grandparents and carers as the Covid lockdown restrictions eased this Spring to run successful free outdoor toddler groups for local families.
“We thought how nice it would be to open up our Forest area for the little ones to explore with their relatives, carers and friends, particularly as they have not been able to socialise with other children in the lockdown period” said Headmaster Douglas Brown.
John Mould the teacher who heads up the Forest School welcomed everyone and encouraged them to explore the outdoor area and initially to walk around, climb safely and to gather sticks and leaves. He has planned a series of activities to sit alongside exploration including finger painting, craft, music and dancing.
He explained how the Forest School ethos is child centred, allowing them to learn through discovery, exploration and curiosity. The school places enormous value on outdoor learning and encourages the children between the ages of three to eleven to get outside to learn in all types of weather and all year round. Children develop early movement skills such as climbing trees safely and begin to manage their own risk in structured lessons. As they grow in confidence they can progress to den building, knot tying, wood cutting and whittling. Children who may lack confidence in a classroom setting often thrive outdoors as a new set of opportunities opens to them. Important life skills such as teamwork, risk management and independent learning are just some of the benefits gained from woodland activities.
Everyone was delighted to be able to get out in the fresh air and to do something a bit different. Some children were a little shy to begin with but soon grew in confidence and the carers said how good it was to see new faces and to have a chance to chat while enjoying the outdoor space.