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Jun 07, 2018

Appreciate all the benefits of forest and woodland activity trips for kindergartens

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Kindergartens and nurseries in Scotland can now take advantage of the Forestry Commission Scotland's (FCS) Forest Kindergarten Programme to enable early years teachers to support learning in forests and green spaces. The programme was initially developed in 2009 by the FCS and has now been granted full SQA accreditation, meaning that the course quality is assured by Scottish government awarding body regulations.

About the Forest Kindergarten Programme

This valuable outdoor activities programme helps teaching staff appreciate the background to younger children's outdoor learning and provides ideas for a range of outdoor play activities and learning opportunities. Participating in the programme provides the understanding, knowledge and skills, and confidence needed to support young children as they explore woodlands and forests and acquire learning through their play activities.

Comments from the FCS

Sally York, an education policy adviser with FCS commented: "FCS’s partnership with the SQA has been invaluable for accrediting the Forest Kindergarten course. With it becoming a nationally recognised qualification, this will add value to the course for early years practitioners. It will benefit them and the children they work with, in that the practitioner will have a more in-depth understanding and appreciation of early years pedagogy and play outdoors".

What the programme provides

The course provides in-depth knowledge on a range of activities, including hunting for bugs and insects, tracking animals, den building, arts and crafts ideas for outdoor visits, alongside providing support in learning about the risks and dangers that could possibly present during any visits to woodland or forest settings.

It has been shown that learning and play activities in woodlands help children's development in a number of ways, leading to better levels of concentration and communication, higher stamina, and improvements to coordination and balance. Outdoor activities of this nature also lead to increased levels of confidence and a greater appreciation of the outdoors and wildlife. Young children participating in educational trips of this nature learn about team working and investigative research at a very early age and recording the results of their woodland activities is a valuable way for them to develop reading, writing and recording skills. These notes can easily be transferred back to the classroom environment for work on projects and studies to help reinforce the knowledge gained within the outdoor setting.

Colleges offering the programme

The FCS is presently looking for colleges and higher education establishments around Scotland to offer this accredited course as an aspect of the early years' curriculum. It is currently provided by West College in West Scotland and 200 teaching students have already finished the programme.

The Curriculum Quality Leader in Childhood Practice at West College, Geraldine Miller, said: "We have been embedding the three-day Forest Kindergarten programme in our course delivery since 2014 and are very fortunate to have the support of FCS in its roll out for early years students. The Kindergarten programme thus far has engaged students and staff in practical hands-on learning, designed to equip them with the skills needed to make the most of the outdoor space available. This allows children the freedom to play, explore and learn without limits. With the Scottish Government's 1140 hours expansion programme underway it is important for early years practitioners to embrace the possibilities within the boundaries of their settings. As a college, we are delighted that SQA and FCS have this new National Work-based Award, which recognises the value of on and off-site outdoor space as an integral part of the learning processes for pre-school children".

If you would like further information on ways in which the FCS Forest Kindergarten programme can help teaching staff planning to embark on woodland outdoor activities, you can get in touch with Marian Cairns atmarian.cairns@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

Sourcing supplies for woodland trips and day trips

Rhino Stationery despatch school supplies throughout the whole of the UK. If you're planning day trips and educational activities for children, take time to check out our entire range of bulk classroom supplies to enable your budget to go further. We provide stationery, pens, pencils, art supplies and a whole host more essential equipment to ensure your school trip or kindergarten outing is well organised and all the children can participate fully in activities. Take time to browse our website to find out more.

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