As well as delivering The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, we put a strong focus on outdoor learning, encouraged children to explore the natural world in a safe, fun, and interactive way, enabling them to learn about the world and gain new skills.
Westwards Nursery is very proud of its true Forest School sessions within a beautiful woodland site owned by Loughborough University. Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.The children thrive at Forest school and are excited from the time they get into our mini-bus, singing songs all the way!
Forest school was developed in Scandinavia and is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children’s right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
The Forest School ethos works hand in hand with our In The Moment Planning style as it steps away from ‘planned activities’ and gives children choices making them confident learners.
Children are given encouragement to direct their own learning with the support of our Forest School leaders, either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through ‘scaffolding’ a child’s learning, but mostly through simply observing interests and how children are in the outdoors. Children participate in various activities including campfire cooking, building dens, paddling in the stream, learning about wildlife, using tools, mark-making and the annual Christmas Nativity in the forest is simply magical.
Significantly, and on many levels, a woodland environment is central in supporting this very dynamic approach to learning: the passage of time, from the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment – an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes; a range of visual stimuli from near to far, high to low, very big to very small; and the infinite layers of historical, cultural, spiritual and mythological significance that speak of our deep relationship with trees and woodland through the ages.