Every session is different depending on age, number of participants, location, season and weather. Generally sessions will be around 2 hours, although this will vary from group to group.
The first session is all about familiarisation with the Forest School area, setting boundaries and getting to know each other. This session, even in a familiar location with participants who know each other will be different from any activity before due to the different learning approach.
After arriving in the Forest School area, a central circle may be set up, which will be the focal point of all activities. It may well be that the seating materials, such as logs, need to be found first. After a simple game, participants may explore the Forest School area and help to set safe boundaries and make judgements about appropriate risks with the support of the Forest School leader.
This free play and exploration allows participants to do whatever they prefer, whether searching for wildlife, climbing on logs, or just sitting and watching others. As the leader observes the differing styles of play and behaviour, ideas for future activities can be developed that will provide opportunities for deep learning to take place.
Sharing of experiences is encouraged, so after the first exploration, the group will come together to talk about their discoveries, followed by further activities that may include den building, natural art, tracking, mini beast hunting. Although a session will always be planned, it is normal for diversions to take place as something is found or noticed.
A drink and snack may be included as part of the session, depending upon the time spent outside, time of year and group policies.
All sessions end with a review of the session with the group in the central circle and an opportunity to reflect on what they have learnt. Finally, the Forest School site is returned to nature (or at least the way it was before the group arrived!) and then it is time to go.
Subsequent sessions will begin with a review of previous experiences at Forest School.
The leader will discuss the session with the group staff to assist in the review process and support planning for the next session. This ensures that activities are developed around the participants learning preferences.