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Professional Resources

Forest Schools

The Leicestershire Virtual School has arranged for foster carers and their children to attend a Forest Schools programme, taking place over four consecutive weekends. One of the VS officers attended this weekend to see how things were going…

Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Qualified practitioners carefully facilitate and plan the day and have the fundamental aim of building young people’s self-esteem, confidence, independence and creativity.

As a complete novice to Forest School I was looking forward to my Saturday visit to Manor Park Farm near East Leake. For those that don’t know, Forest School is the name of a specific ethos – a way of working with young people in an outdoor natural space for an extended period, often a full year. In this case it is over 4 weekends in September 2019 with foster carers and young people.

The day started at 10.00 and the organisers had already set up many of the activities which can include:

  • Sensory walks
  • Foraging
  • Shelter building
  • Water play
  • Tree climbing
  • Campfire cooking
  • Hammocks
  • Woodwork
  • Nature art
  • Games like Hide and Seek
  • Fire building and lighting
  • Puddle and mud jumping

This was the third weekend of four and the group was already established and so were soon chatting to each other. I spent time in all the activities with the young people and had lots of fun, almost as much as the children, talking with carers and children and joining in with the activities. I got soaked at the water play area, and I was the official “hammock-swinger” and top bracelet maker (well nearly).

In the hammock area I spoke to a girl who was relaxing in the hammock; she said to me that this “was the most relaxed I’ve been in two weeks”.  Some of the foster cares spent time in the hammock and looked pretty relaxed too!

The foster carers seemed equally to enjoy the day, engaging with the woodland craft activities as enthusiastically as their children, interacting with the young people and chatting with each other. At times it felt as therapeutic for foster carers as it did for the young people.

Overall it was a brilliant sunny day out. In talking to the foster carers and young people everyone said how they had enjoyed the day, learnt new skills and left feeling relaxed.

I would recommend this to anyone.

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