Irish Forest Schools in practice

The Story of Sligo Woodland School

My name is Trisha MacLaughlin. I have worked in both the Early Childhood Care Education and Community Development sectors for many years as a practitioner, researcher, consultant and lecturer. Guided by Masters by research in the field of ECCE and my Level 3 (UK) Certificate in Forest School Programme Leadership my key area of interest is outdoor risky play.

I formed Sligo Woodland School in December 2016 and my practice is modelled on the Forest School approach. In Sligo Woodland School, our philosophy is to encourage children to use their own initiative, help them deal with risk, promote the progression of ‘sound’ emotional skills, all using the numerous learning opportunities within the natural environment.

I started the business with an educational preschool programme called Forest Friday Nature Play, based on taking children outdoors to engage in a wide range of nature-based learning every Friday for 4/6 weeks. The children came from local preschools. The programme schedule included me visiting the preschools and the preschool visiting my woods.

During Easter and Summer 2017 I developed Outdoor Nature based Holiday Camps for children aged 0-12 years. These provided forest fun sessions offering a variety forest school skill sets and lots of outdoor adventures. During this time I also started Forest Friday parent and toddler sessions and Forest Friday family sessions (for 0-90yrs, all welcome!).

In September 2017 Sligo Woodland School commenced an ECCE preschool session in the morning. In the afternoon I run some afterschool forest adventures sessions for 3-12yrs and Forest Friday family afternoons and Woodland Weekend sessions for 0-12yrs. In January 2019 I will commence and afternoon ECCE preschool session.

Fridays have become my favourite day of the week, and the busiest! Throughout my experiences, in the woods over this last year I have found and truly believe that the forest is a wonderful and magical place for families to come and play and be together, in the moment. Thanks for this opportunity to share my experiences with you!

Trisha Maclaughlin
Sligo Woodland School
0877474189