'They love getting muddy' – children spend more time outdoors with forest schools sessions
PUBLISHED: 16:30 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 19 October 2018
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
Suffolk pupils are making mud pies and hunting for bugs as part of a new outdoor learning initiative to help them learn more about the environment.
Children at Sir Robert Hitcham’s Primary School in Framlingham have been “having fun, getting muddy and experiencing the outdoors” by building dens, hunting for creepy crawlies and taking woodland walks.
The weekly sessions, held in “Robin Wood” at the back of the school, are part of a nationwide scheme which aims to help youngsters develop confidence and self esteem through hands on learning experiences in the natural environment.
Caroline Hopkins, who is outdoor activities co-ordinator at the school, said the initiative had proved a big hit with the younger children and there were plans for the older pupils to join in too.
“It’s just amazing for the pupils’ personal, social and emotional wellbeing,” she added. .
“It’s wonderful for their confidence, their self-esteem and their imagination.
“Just being outside seems to help some children flourish more than when they’re in the classroom,
“They seem to feel more comfortable in the outside environment.
Mrs Hopkins also said the outdoors sessions helped the children learn about risk taking - but in a safe environment.
She has praised the work of teaching assistants Denise Waddell and Kim Free who underwent months of training to become Forest School leaders. “It’s down to all their hard work – they’ve been brilliant, “she added.
Recent sessions have involved scavenger hunts, woodland management and using nature to make decorations. Other classes have featured campfire cooking sessions making drop scones, stewed apples and blackberries.
Forest School leader Mrs Free said: “The children get so much out of it.
“They love getting muddy.”
Mrs Waddell, another Forest School leader added: “It’s great for the children to be outdoors, learning about the environment and being involved with looking after the environment.”
A spokesman for the Forest Schools Association said: “At Forest School we are passionate about getting children outside, using natural materials to learn through play while respecting nature and the environment.
“Children are given the opportunity to develop and experience real life skills by using real tools, lighting fires and taking risks in a safe environment.”