Malvern will be the first school in Hong Kong to run the Forest School programme with FSA-certified Forest School leaders. Access to an outdoor environment is as important to children’s wellbeing and education as a conventional kindergarten space. Scandinavian countries have long practised outdoor learning, and the UK’s Forest School Association formalised such a programme, with growing world-wide attention and expansion. Our sister school The Downs Malvern in the United Kingdom also runs a Forest School for their Early Years students, achieving exceptional progress.
Providing a Forest School learning opportunity was clearly not easy in the densely-populated neighbourhoods of Hong Kong, thus we took the unprecedented step of commissioning land in the great outdoors that is designated to become an integral part of Malvern’s educational philosophy. Malvern College Pre-School Hong Kong children will therefore have regular access to this cutting-edge, bold opportunity to extend their education beyond the confines of the classroom walls, and truly have exposure to a myriad of exciting, challenging and essential opportunities to enhance and complement their everyday suburban life, and “round-off” their education in an enjoyable and fun way.
The Forest School programme has a philosophy of child-led learning, with a focus on all the senses. Close supervision by trained Forest School Educators and school staff is balanced with the need for children to make their own decisions and explore. Children learn to think, question and problem-solve in mini projects, and communication, collaborate and lead in small teams. Students grow in confidence and self esteem, and increase their physical and social skills. These benefits have positive effects on all areas of their life and learning. The programme is run in all weather conditions as long as it is safe. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. Our Forest School guiding principles cover: Warmth – Correct clothing, gumboots, waterproof etc; Food– Healthy snacks and meals; Drinks – Staying hydrated with water /hot drinks in colder weather; Safety – individuals feel safe both physically and emotionally.
Our Forest School Educational Sessions are designed around a theme; themes are sometimes subtle (e.g. evolving or exploring the site) or more obvious (e.g. science focused, butterflies, water, insects, ecosystems, fairies or nature investigators). Teamwork skills are developed through games and activities. Individual skills and self-esteem are heightened throughout activities such as hide and seek, shelter building, tool skills, lighting fires by the Forest School Educators or environmental art, and so on. Each activity develops intra and inter-personal skills as well as practical and intellectual skills.
More information about the Forest School Learning Initiative can be found here.