In April 2014 we introduced Tops Forest School to a number of nurseries in the family. Starting with six of the nurseries taking our preschool age children out to natural habitats such as forests, rivers, beaches and pond areas to explore and adventure with the intention of simply supervising as the children find their own fascinations in nature, take the opportunity to be spontaneous in new places. The vast majority of Tops Day Nurseries settings now run Tops Forest School and babies in the wood sessions for children aged 3 months to school age.
Tops Forest School is run in all of our nurseries with children across all ages getting involved.
Babies can expand their sensory awareness; feel the moss and flowers in a forest or dig shells under the sand. Two year olds can build a fort out of logs and leaves to have their lunch in or have their first try at making a tyre swing or climb trees. Three year olds can broaden their problem solving skills by building a log bridge to get over a stream.
The Tops Forest School ethos strongly believes it is important for children to learn about nature through nature and that children of all ages are able to explore the outdoors. Strong factors of Tops Forest School include:
- A rich supply of resources and materials
- Chances for staff to observe the children in a different surrounding
- An alternative to today’s over reliance on digital and electronic sources for recreation, learning and socialising
- Children learn to recognise and asses risks for themselves.
The children are given supervised access to magnifying glasses, saws, spades, buckets and more to help them explore. Children are encouraged to take risks, get messy, get wet, climb higher, and learn about their surroundings.
Tops Day Nurseries have created a Tops Forest School guide for parents and carers, which explains how Tops are different to other Forest Schools and why we believe Tops Forest School has such a positive impact on children’s development.
Tops Forest School will install a love of the great outdoors by:
- Inspirational, stimulating, hands on experiences that will develop self‐esteem, confidence and responsibility
- The use of the woodland setting, the various real tools and the natural resources will bring learning to life, creating an understanding of the balance of nature and the infinite resources around us
- Identifying individual learning schema’s to enable the children to learn most effectively and promote success
- Planning for every child in the early session stages, then letting the children lead the sessions through their own interests
- Taking informed, self‐calculated risks and choices to ensure their groups safety, developing sympathy and empathy to the group around them
- Working as a team to solve problems, fostering communication and negotiation skills
If you would like more information about the Tops Forest School or would like to request a Tops Forest School handbook, please speak to your nursery manager.