Holiday Academy Outdoor Forest School Camp for Kids in London

Forest School at Holiday Academy is an inspirational alternative learning experience which takes place on a regular basis outdoors in natural settings and across all seasons for ages 6+ and for 3-6s.

Through a carefully planned programme of achievable tasks, play and activities including den/shelter building, fire lighting, outdoor cooking, team games, wood work, tool use, and nature-based craft, each participant has an opportunity to learn about and connect to the natural environment, problem solve, and enjoy being part of a team. Forest school looks at each child individually and moulds the sessions around the children to enable self-esteem, independence, and creativity to flourish in the fresh air. We believe in the philosophy which underpins the Forest School movement which encourages children’s personal, social and emotional skills – a process of self-discovery and sense of achievement – and all with hands-on experience. Through our Forest School club, we aim to build on resilience and emotional intelligence, for the child to be more self-aware and empathetic towards themselves, their relationships and their environment. Our base-line is ‘not to make anyone feel bad about themselves’. The self-esteem boost will enable more effective learning as they take ownership of their processes rather than just the results, and the confidence to have a go and learn from their mistakes.

The children are gathered together at the Holiday Academy venue in groups by the Forest school leaders + assistants to spend the day outside in one of the local parks. They get ready with the appropriate clothing and hi-viz vests and hear about the plan for the day, asking any questions they need to. They either walk or take public transport (bus) to a local park. This too is part of the experience.

Holiday Academy Outdoor Forest school programme for ages 6-12 yrs: 10am-4pm with more hours available from 8.30am or until 6pm.

Holiday Academy Outdoor Forest school programme for ages 3-6 yrs: 9.45am-. 3pm with more hours available from 8.30am or until 6pm.

Forest school can be cross linked to academic teaching having a positive effect in the class room, at home, and in the community. It’s also fantastic opportunity to explore and be part of the nature world, and Forest School can be the link to investigating and gaining experience, from these magical places – the confidence that being ‘savvy’ brings. There will be activities planned but the staff will follow and build on the children’s interests. We are a great champion of the ‘power of play’ and the concept of the environment as the 3rd educator. You will find your children bringing home sticks to whittle, with rosy cheeks and sleeping extra well at night! Each day is linked so we recommend booking for the entire week for maximum benefit and group dynamics. Some of the children choose Forest school each holiday and the Forest School leaders recognize this and include it in their planning. The nature of Forest school is to be inclusive so any new child just fits straight into the group.

Forest school has 6 key principles:

  • is a long- term process with frequent and regular sessions rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaption, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
  • takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
  • aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners
  • offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
  • is run by qualified Forest School Practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
  • uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

The children are picked up from the Holiday Academy venue by the Forest school leaders and dropped back later in the day. Unlike other Forest schools we offer opportunities for whole days out  during 11 weeks of the school holidays throughout the seasons. For example they could be outside every day for 5 weeks during the Summer. We feel this has just as much impact if not more, for example, than one hour a week for one school term, and compliments any other learning. We also are blessed with outstanding park landscapes close by which offer varied Forest school habitat. Local parks and a church garden for fire-lighting. If the weather is exceptionally windy and cold we find shelter / make shelter or remain at the school venue which has sheltered spaces but still outside with suitable activities.

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The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children’s right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.

Forest School is based more on the process of learning than it is on the content – more on the ‘how’ than the ‘what’. This means that genuine Forest School practice steps boldly out of the shadow and limitation of ‘planned activities’ and ventures collaboratively into the realms of the unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited. Children and young people are given encouragement to direct their own learning – this often requires dynamic support on the part of the Forest School leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through ‘scaffolding’ a child’s learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors.

Significantly, and on many levels, a woodland environment is central in supporting this very dynamic approach to learning: the passage of time, from the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment – an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes; a range of visual stimuli from near to far, high to low, very big to very small; and the infinite layers of historical, cultural, spiritual and mythological significance that speak of our deep relationship with trees and woodland through the ages.

 
  • Reconnecting children to nature and place
  • Outdoor Learning
  • Child-led Learning
  • Active and experiential learning through play
  • Team working, social skills
  • Risk, challenge and adventure

Kids between the ages of 3 and 12 years are just learning about this big globe we live on, so the Holiday Academy Forest school for kids brings them to places that open whole new worlds to them, and augment what they learn at school.

At Holiday Academy we love to promote practical independent skills for children who can assess their own risk – learning how to walk safely and responsibly in a group (wearing hi viz vests), looking at maps, and negotiating the London Transport system, looking after their belongings, but also social independence, resilience and working successfully as a team.

 

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Book a place at Forest School camp in London

Once you’ve seen your child at Forest School – or witnessed them arriving home in a happy, tired slump – you’ll know how worthwhile it really is. Our Forest School in London has developed from demand and we know from first-hand experience how absolutely wonderful and wonder-filled they can be. So if your child’s never tried it, why not give it a go? We get booked up quite quickly so jump in with your dates as soon as you can!
You can book just one day or (recommended) a whole week – and we run all year long, throughout the seasons, for those who can’t get enough! Our indoor-based Holiday Academy day-camp is available too, in case you want to give the kids a mixture of experiences (and it will be a really joyous jumble!). At Holiday Academy we offer kayaking trips (over 8 yrs old) as well as creative activities like art projects, drama, music, sport and tennis clubs. We run street dance workshops some weeks, and drama productions during others. It’s always different and always brilliant!
Get in touch if you want to find out more about the options for each school holiday.

Forest camps for your wildlings

Our outdoor ‘forest school’ camps are non-residential, although you can opt for more hours (the kids return from forest camp at either 3pm (Junior Forest school) or 4pm (Senior Forest school), but we’re open from 8.30am until 6pm). The children learn how to use tools properly starting with a potato peeler. They safely build fires using the ‘fire triangle’ and do outdoor cooking in a nearby church garden. Observation, navigation, foraging, den-building, tree climbing, mud slides, nature based games, child-led initiatives, letting off steam, sensory-play (squidging mud etc!), and team-work: there is no end to the skills that can be learned as the group learns and grows together, and the sessions are planned/risk assessed around the children. So we like to have each group for a week so they build up their skills and resilience, but we won’t stop you from booking a day if you have a child who’d just like to try it out. Contact us about forest school in London