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Children at a farm-based day nursery are enjoying learning all about the great outdoors following the launch of a new forest school.
The forest school at the Ofsted outstanding rated High Bank Day Nursery in Stapleton, near Darlington, provides children with hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees.
The children do everything from learning how to build dens, through to studying insects and wildlife and even how to treat a nettle sting with a dock leaf.
The Forest School is led by Gillian Beadle, Leader of the Pre-School Room at High Bank.
Gill, who is training to become a Level 3 Forest School Leader with the Forest School Association, said: “The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences and activities.
“This can involve counting mushrooms, observing plants, devising stories, lifting up rocks to see what’s living underneath them or collecting willow to make a roof for a den. The possibilities really are endless.
“It enables us to be outside, whatever the weather and it helps the children achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through different, hands-on learning experiences.
“We have only just started the Forest School but the children love it and the feedback from parents has been very positive.”
Forest schools began in Denmark in the 1950s and have been around as a formal concept since 1993, It is a specialised learning approach that sits within, and compliments, the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
The Forest School is the latest addition to the activity programme at High Bank. The nursery also recently opened a new farm area complete with calves, piglets, sheep, ducks and hens.
High Bank Day Nursery Owner Lesley Thompson said: “Being based on a farm, we have always promoted outdoor learning and the mini-farm and forest school enable us to take even more of the children’s learning outside.”