Educational pioneers such as Frobel, Isaacs, McMillan and Steiner promoted the value of the natural environment for children’s health, learning and emotional well-being. The concept of Forest Schools originated in Scandinavia where there has always been a belief in the importance of the outdoors to a person’s well-being and health. Being outside is embedded in the ethos of many European nurseries and most children spend a day a week in the outdoor environment. The movement began in England in the early 1990s and since then there has been growing interest and demand for this provision. Now nationally recognised as an innovative approach to education, the forest school initiative is growing and becoming established within many nurseries and schools.
With unsupervised outdoor play being largely replaced by regimented after-school classes and weekend visits to indoor soft-play centers, outside education does more than just getting children out into the fresh air, the initiative is infused with a social and environmental ethos. KTB Kids enable children to develop a lifelong love and understanding of the natural environment, encouraging through outside play, children to become aware of small environmental actions they can take to work towards a greener future. This seems particularly pertinent for the modern child when studies and reports are constantly reporting that children are becoming estranged from the natural world, and where national obesity and fitness levels are giving cause for concern. Forest School inspired teaching offers children the opportunity to reconnect with nature in a magical and stimulating setting.
At KTB Kids the approach to learning is exciting and inspirational and high importance is placed on outdoor learning and encouraging children to become more active and healthy as they explore and experience the natural world for themselves. Consistent with the Forest school approach children are offered rich opportunities to promote their well-being and confidence in the outdoor environment and are given the freedom to develop their own ideas, make decisions, solve problems and take risks. Many of the skills that develop as a result of spending time at a nursery that embraces these principles are essential life skills. The outside play that is Forest School inspired at KTB Kids provides a safe yet challenging and stimulating informal environment full of sensory diversity. Space and resources are naturally available providing opportunities for real creativity and imaginative play and allowing children to investigate and problem solve, learning to work together by communicating effectively.
The outside adventures begin by getting ready to go outside, dressing in appropriate clothing, wellies and waterproofs or sun cream and sunhats. The sessions vary every day but may consist of storytelling, drama, role play, sensory activities, mini beast hunts, circle time, collecting/sorting, counting, investigating, recording, mark making, splashing in puddles, rolling in leaves, catching rain on a tarpaulin, listening, looking for worms or shelter building sessions. At KTB Kids the outside adventure sessions are for one and a half hours, twice a day, so that every child joins in at least once. It is important to note that children never complain about the weather and parents of children attending KTB Kids are asked to consider the following quotes:
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” – Alfred Wainwright
“Bad weather always looks worse through a window” – Tom Lehrer