My two children go to a forest school, as part of their primary school curriculum, which is something that really appealed when we were looking around schools in our local area. There are so many benefits to a forest school, as learning outdoors can boost children’s confidence, it can help to develop their social skills, as well as physical skills and, it can also help to improve their concentration and motivation, and teach them some vital life skills.
All of this is well and good, but when it comes to this time of year, the thought of having your children outdoors for several hours, in the cold and wet, is a little unpleasant. And when they are looking for parent volunteers, there can be few and far between in winter. But you just need to know a few tips and tricks for winter forest school survival, for both you and the children. If you have a child at a forest school, or are thinking about a forest school, then this is for you. Here are some of the ways to manage in the chilly weather.
Having the right pieces of clothing can make such a difference. Having a base layer or thermals is a good idea, much like you’d have if you were going to go skiing. Waterproof gloves can help to keep little ones warm, as those knitted styles of gloves are useless! They let the cold in, and if it is wet, they will just stay wet and it will seep through to hands, making them chilly. Having cold hands is no fun when you’re outdoors for several hours. As long as children are dressed appropriately, there isn’t a reason that they should get cold.
When it comes to forest school, you will want to make sure that it isn’t a case of your children getting cold, and then think about whether they will be able to warm up. It is all about making sure that they don’t get cold in the first place, which is where the right kind of clothing comes into play. Although it might sound miserable, when it is icy and snowy it adds a whole new element to forest school which many children do enjoy, but they’ll only be able to do that if they are dressed in the right kind of clothes.
Layers, and more layers!
Speaking of appropriate clothing, you need to make sure that you have a lot of layers, for the children, and for you, if you are helping. A thermal layer or baselayer is a good idea, and then add extras, for long-sleeved tops, leggings, joggers, waterproofs, fleeces, and coats. Having too much is always a good thing, because then they can take layers off if they feel too warm, which is a better situation to be in than being too cold. I have some fleeces for my children that are lovely and warm, as well as one for myself. Having a hood on a fleece or hoodie can help too, as it can be another layer on your or their head.
Even on a dry day, you will need to have some waterproof footwear. Ideally, this will be kids wellie boots, but snow boots could work too, depending on the conditions. Out in the woods there can be a lot of mud, leaves, and puddles. Children love to explore, so you need to make sure that they are dressed for it; getting wet feet would not be a good thing and make the rest of the forest school morning pretty miserable. Thick socks are a must with waterproof footwear too, of course.
Long sleeves and trousers
Although ticks are usually inactive in winter, there can still be some around. In autumn or more mild conditions, they can still definitely be hanging around in the woods. So making sure that there are long sleeves on tops and jackets, as well as full-length trousers, rather than shorts, is a must. No gaps between trousers and shoes is important too, just to be safe.
Have you ever thought of your children going to a forest school before? It would be great to hear what you think.
*this is a collaborative post, but all words and opinions are my own.