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Esher and Weybridge

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Willows Forest School

Willow's is a privately run Forest School, offering a safe and fun outdoor experience for children aged 1 years and upwards, in all weathers and all year round.  Classes run during the term time for Mother and Toddlers and for 2-4 year old children, plus holiday camps for 4-11 year old children.  The children learn about nature by making bug hotels and habitats for our wildlife including the resident mascot fox "Willow."

Forest School is child lead, however children are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and have a go at activities available to them, so that they learn through having fun, build self esteem, and learn some life long skills, all whilst making wonderful childhood memories.

Forest Schools provides a safe, natural and fun environment for children to develop strong social skills, physical ability, self-esteem, independence and enhance their knowledge of nature and the changing seasons. Forest Schools fosters children's curiosity and motivation to learn and explore. It teaches children to respect each other, themselves, the natural world and their local community.  Developed in Denmark in the 1980's, the concept came to the UK in the 1990's.

A typical day at Willow's starts with the staff risk assessing the site ensuring any harmful danger has been removed. The children are signed in by parents and then meet at Willows Den. They put their named water bottle in the den and put a high visibility tabbard on. The site is then risk assessed with all the children, so that they know where their boundaries are, what to do if they see stinging nettles, rabbit holes or high raised roots, for example. 

Willows Forest School involve the children in looking out for one another. At the fire circle, rules are recapped.  Children collect sticks of certain sizes to help build a fire, but it is never lit until the children fully understand the safety rules. The group will be divided, so that some children will learn to whittle sticks, making dream catchers, bow and arrows, charcoal, pencils, musical instruments, fairies and elves over time.  The other group will be off building dens, making homes for wildlife, designing hats from natural resources and free playing in the mud kitchen. Everyone comes together for a well-earned healthy snack, before the groups swap over.

At the end of the session everyone gathers around the fire circle.  If it's lit, children can toast some marshmallows before it's safely put out.  The Willows Forest School mascot , "Willow the Fox" is shared around the group, so that the children can say what they had enjoyed about Forest School, before a farewell song.

As it's outdoors, children should be dressed appropriately for the conditions, so that they can maximise the opportunities that the Forest Schools offers.

There is something for every child to enjoy whether it be building dens, making fairies and elves from natural resources, whittling sticks to make keepsakes or singing and story reading whilst toasting marshmallows over a camp fire.


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