What I like about Forest School – From children & staff at RMDS

RMDS Forest School has been in operation since 2011/12. By the end of 3rd class, all the children will have had 24 sessions in the forest – eight weeks in Summer in Senior infants; eight weeks in Spring in 2nd class and eight weeks in Autumn/Winter in third class. Here are some thoughts and drawings from third class 2020/21 who have just finished their final FS session. They think Forest School should be available in all schools and they describe why Forest School is special to them.

Mary, age 9

I think Forest school should be in other schools because it educates you in the forest environment.

Forest school is special to me because I got to be around nature especially trees and make stuff out of nature.

I love Forest school because I can climb trees.

Emmett, age 9

I think Forest school should be in other schools because it puts you in a good mood.

Forest school is special to me because it is relaxing and fun. I also get to see my friends that are not in my pod.

I love Forest school because of the freedom we have to play.

Nina, age 9

I think Forest School should be in other schools because it is nice to go outside and be with nature and we get to learn more about nature.

Forest school is special to me because when I was sad a blue tit came over to me and made me smile.

I loved Forest school because I really love nature and birds and everything wild.

Maria Dillon, SEN Teacher: This year I was part of the Forest school programme in RMDS. I am a special education teacher working with 3rd class. Forest school is an invaluable resource as a teacher as it allows me to observe the children in a more relaxed and hands-on environment. Children also have the opportunity to develop their problem-solving skills, social skills and fine and gross motor skills. Having forest school each week for 8 weeks, enables me to build relationships with the 15 children and get to know them better. Caroline, our forest school leader always makes the day so enjoyable and engaging for the children. The most enjoyable part of forest school this term was watching the quiet and shy children gain confidence and become more comfortable throughout the 8 weeks.  

Cameron, age 9

I think Forest school should be in other schools because it helps people to connect with the outside and nature.

Forest school is special to me because it helps me to relax and gives me a break from the classroom.

What I like about Forest school is the freedom to decide for myself and most of all it is fun.

Evan, age 9

I think Forest school should be in other schools because we can just be outside and relax.

Forest school is special to me because we can have the freedom to play, to be outside, and to make things using natural materials.

I love Forest school because I love being outdoors.

Roisin age, 9

I think Forest school should be other schools because kids need fresh air and learn new skills that you would not learn in a normal class, like how to make knots with ropes, learning to use tools like knives, bowsaws and doing art in nature.

Forest school is special to me because it is nice to smell the fresh air even in the rain.

I love Forest school because it’s fun and we learn all the time new things.

Annie Blayney, Class Teacher: As the 3rd class teacher in RMDS this year I had the pleasure of being part of the Forest School programme. It is such a fantastic programme, and I cannot stress enough just how beneficial it was for the children in my class. For children who find the classroom dynamic difficult at times it allowed them some space and freedom to use their energy in a different capacity which helped them focus back at school in a more formal setting. Being in nature had a calming effect and we often use this as a calming technique back in the classroom.  They learnt to work better as a team and to respect and care for the environment. This is something we have also continued in the classroom and which now has relevance to them. It was particularly brilliant to see some of the quieter children using tools, climbing trees, and generally getting their time to shine! The children are also much so confident and comfortable when it comes to wrapping up and getting outdoors whatever the weather.