The Okeover Estate in Mappleton is soon to be home to a brand new Forest School Kindergarten, run by former teacher Fay Ingleby. The venture will welcome youngsters daily between the hours of 9am and 3pm.
What are forest schools?
Forest schools are not a new concept in the UK, but there remain relatively few in existence. The idea behind them is to encourage outdoor play in children and foster a connection with the environment. Children attending the school at Okeover will spend the entire day out of doors, in virtually all weathers.
Spending time outdoors
Various studies in recent years have highlighted a disconnect between the current generation of children and the natural world. It is estimated that around half of all youngsters today have never experienced the joy of squelching through mud, or eating out of doors beyond their own back garden.
Ingleby is very passionate about the value of child-led play where kids can explore and roam with relative freedom. She says, ‘It’s lovely to be able to let them play like they used to in the great outdoors, giving them back the space and freedom that’s been taken away from them.’
Host of skills to be learned
Forest schools help children to develop independence, self-reliance and problem solving skills, by allowing them free reign to explore their immediate environment and think for themselves. When the weather turns inclement the children learn about the importance of keeping warm and dry and how that can be achieved, outside of the home.
Ingleby’s school has been formally assessed and approved by Ofsted, and she herself has attended forest school training. Local schools and community groups are invited to visit the school to experience what is on offer. Forest schools don’t offer a full time curriculum, but a series of sessions where kids can experience life in the wilds and truly run free.
What’s your opinion on Forest Schools? Do the offer a great development opportunity for kids? Would you let yours attend one?