Forest schools is still a relatively new concept here in Ireland. I was part of the first batch of leaders trained in Ireland in 2013. Since then I have been collaborating with Earthforce Education, and we have been running forest school programmes in Kildare, Dublin, Wicklow and Kilkenny. We have worked with pre-schoolers up to 6th class, and have done some work with after school and youth programmes also. We run summer camps and one day programmes too.
What is Forest Schools?
Forest School is based around allowing children spend quality, recurring time in nature, which allows for the holistic learning and development of the child. Forest School is child-led and designed to develop the children’s relationship to themselves, each other, learning and nature in a safe way. Each child will engage with this in their own way and our aim is to support that as forest school leaders. The ethos of Forest school is to create a safe space for children as part of their personal development. Forest school allows for various challenges to arise in the student, and they need to be allowed space to explore this in the forest school setting.
What I offer:
Activities that generally happen at Forest School
Forest school programmes are delivered in local woodlands or at a local park or in the school grounds, whichever is most probable. The programme normally consists of a number of weekly sessions of approximately 2.5-3 hours in length, with two groups on the day, depending on the type of groups involved.
During our Forest School programme participants will be empowered to choose their preferred activities with time set aside for child-led free-play. They will be given agreed boundaries, ground rules and FSL’s will have all prior risk assessments for activities on file.
Activities that will be available include coppicing and crafting with hazel or willow, camouflage, tracking wildlife, whittling, making charcoal and crafts from natural materials, nature awareness games, foraging, making dens and shelters, how to use outdoor tools, storytelling, expanding the senses, mud and clay play, mini-beasts and habitats, flora & fauna ID & making, orienteering, mapping, reflection time and games and whatever they come up with during child-led play time.
For more about the benefits of Forest School: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/infd-5z3jvz
Forest School can happen in a variety of habitats, such as woodland, bog, wild location, waste ground, school ground or even an urban city park around Ireland and the skills taught and games we use can be adapted for use by the attending teachers and shared within the wider education community.
Previous Projects: In collaboration with Ciara Hinksman of Earthforce Education
Maynooth Pilot Forest School Project, Spring 2018:
We ran a successful 10-week pilot Forest School Programme in South Meadows Woodland on MU campus from February 2018-May 2018, with 2 x 1st class boys class from Maynooth Boys National School.
Fingal County Council 2017
Based in the Furry Glen, in the Phoenix Park and run in collaboration with Phoenix Park Forest School(Lucy O’Hagan). We worked with 1 x 5th class group and a after-schools group from Local Youth Service Project
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council:
In autumn 2017, we ran a successful pilot forest school programme in Marlay Park, in conjunction with 2 local primary schools, we worked with 1 x 6th class girls and 1 x 6th class boys group, one day a week for 10 weeks.