​​​Deeply rooted -The Forest school journey


The process of Forest School is a gradual transition from adult directed activities to children leading and controlling their own learning. The process will work at different rates and depends on the individuals attending. Some learners may move through the process within 3 months, for others it may take years. The process can be broken into 4 different stages:


Deeply rooted and established

4. Transference-The holistic skills, understanding and experiences developed through a Forest School experience are transferable to the rest of a learner’s life. Improved confidence, self-esteem, problem solving, social, emotional skills and independence are particularly relevant lifelong skills. Forest School also transfers to the wider community. Once children enjoy playing in natural places this enthusiasm spreads to their family increasing visits to wild places and encouraging them to use gardens more frequently and widely. The wider community and local landowners also may become involved in Forest School.

Branching off

3. Consolidation and Independence - Learners are confident enough to undertake their own projects and are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to undertake these projects independently. Children trust adults enough to ask for support if required, but the time is predominately child-led.

Growing tall 

2. Scaffolding and Modelling – With repetitive contact with the natural world learners start observing changes and begin questioning and investigating. The practitioner harnesses these questions and interests into a meaningful learning experience through selective introduction of skills, knowledge, ideas and resources. The time in this stage is a balance between child led and adult directed. The adults need to observe the children’s interests and existing levels of development and then scaffold learning for individuals by directing certain skills and knowledge.

Laying down roots 

1. Acclimatization and Discovery – Learners become familiar with the site, the leader and the various routines. Safety is a key theme and learners discover that they are safe at Forest School physically, mentally and emotionally. Relationships and trust are built between the group and adults. Learners’ confidence grows as they become familiar with systems. Much of the time in this stage is adult directed or modeled.