Forest School, at a distance

As part of our Wild Forest School project, which is generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust run Forest School sessions for home-educated children.

As part of our Wild Forest School project, which is generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust run Forest School sessions for five groups of home-educated children.

During the pandemic, many families got a taste of educating their children at home, but what about those who are already home educated? Leicester has a large and thriving community of home educators. Parents home educate for a wide variety of reasons, which include supporting child-led learning, spending more time as a family or outdoors, or because school has not provided the right environment for the needs of their child.

Forest School

Home-educated children were impacted by lockdown, as many of the groups they attend were either suspended or moved online. When schools were back in session, home-educated children were still not able to meet, play and socialise together like their school-going peers.

We have found that our Forest School sessions, run in a Covid-secure manner, have been vitally important to many families during the pandemic. Here some of our families share their experiences:

“Attending Forest School has been a real lifeline for me and my children in a year of being isolated at home.”
Forest School

“During lockdown we found Forest School was really important in providing some learning and contact with others that wasn’t screen-based. It gave us a reason and motivation to get outdoors which was so good for the children’s wellbeing.”

The sessions have offered a sense of normality during very strange and challenging times:

“Forest School offered a safe sense of freedom and seeing familiar faces and friends gave comfort and security.”

“When Forest School restarted last autumn it was only one of 2 in person activities our son had to attend due to lockdown rules. He had really missed seeing his friends and for ourselves seeing other adults. I love being outside in the Spinney, making things and spending time with my friends and family.”

Forest School

Of course, there have had to be some changes to the way we run the sessions, with children staying in socially distanced family groups, rather than mixing freely as before. Forest School Leaders have had to adapt activities and spend longer planning and preparing for sessions. There has been no sharing of equipment, so at the start of the session, families are given their own set of the tools and materials. Everything must then be washed or put in quarantine after use.

However, the extra time and effort involved has very much been worth it, to see happy, confident children engaging with one another and nature:

“Both my son and I love Forest school as we enjoy being at one with nature and it is a great way to learn new skills, and build friendships with other families. Watching the children grow over the years and form bonds is incredible, and we both find it connects us to both nature and with one another.”  

Forest School

Popular activities at Forest School have included making wooden owls, scary skeletons and other creatures, firing bows and arrows, balancing on a slackline, creating bubble wands, treasure hunting and of course, cooking on the fire. 

We look forward to making many more joyful memories in the woods and hope that we’ll be able to play our favourite games together soon!

Martha Rose, Senior Education Officer