Evaluate the key principles of play and their relevance to Forest School

Topics: Learning, Outdoor education Pages: 8 (1809 words) Published: October 4, 2014
Learner Name: Rachel Fleming
Cohort: Course A May 2014
Module 1 Assessment Task 1
Learning and Development at a Forest School
Programme – SG1/3/NQ/003
2.7 Evaluate the key principles of play and their
relevance to Forest School

Rachel Fleming Course A May 2014

“Play is an essential part of every child's life and is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.” Play England (2014)
As far back as 1826 Froebel saw the value of play in the opportunities it provides for sensory experiences, which he believed, are the foundations of intellectual development (Moyles, 1989 p. 8). However the big question remains, what is play? This question does not seem to have a definitive answer however Play England’s Charter for Children’s Play (2009) describes play as: 'what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way, and for their own reasons.' It should:

• Be fun!
• Promote children’s development, learning, imagination, creativity and independence.
• Help keep children healthy and active.
• Allow children to experience and encounter boundaries, both physical and social.
• Help children learn about their environment and develop a sense of community
• Allow children to find out about themselves
• Play can be therapeutic.
• Play can be a way of building and maintaining important relationships. These principles were echoed in the lists created by groups from Forest School Leaders Course A May 2014 see fig 1 and 2 below.

Fig.1 May 2014

fig.2 May 2014

Other research compares and contrasts ‘play’ and ‘work’. Jean Piaget’s famous quote ‘play is the work of children’, is also backed up by Whitebread (2012) who states:
Play in all its rich variety is one of the highest achievements of the human species, alongside language, culture and technology. Indeed, without play, none of these other achievements would be possible.”

Rachel Fleming Course A May 2014

Using the generic term ‘play’ to describe the key principles behind activities and behaviours that are creative, freely chosen and satisfying for children from all walks of life we can clearly see their relevance to the six guiding principles of Forest School (Forest School Association, 2011). Those of specific relevance are:

Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. Holistic learning is what Forest School is all about. As stated earlier, play promotes children’s development, learning, imagination, creativity, independence and allows them to find out about themselves. The prominent early years academic, Professor Tina Bruce, has said that ‘Play cannot be pinned down, and turned into a product of measurable learning. This is because play is a process [which] enables a holistic kind of learning, rather than fragmented learning’ (House, Open Eye Campaign, 2014). The main stance of Janet Moyles book, ‘Just Playing?’ is that ‘play must be viewed as a process’ (Moyles, 1989, p. 11). When children play and learn they don’t learn just one skill at a time they learn a combination of skills. As discussed on the Teachers TV clip (Teachers TV, 2013), it is the unique combination of outdoor education, play and environmental education learning styles at Forest School, which makes it so special.

Our group discussions created a list of the outcomes of our own play as children. We realized how much learning had gone on during what we referred to as ‘play’. The whole being was being educated – the physical, emotional, mental (well being) and intelligence. This included cooperation, physical skills, story telling, friendship, creativity and many more. See the mind maps related to holistic learning below. Fig. 3,4,5 and 6. (May 2014)

Rachel Fleming Course A May 2014


Fig. 5


Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland...

Bibliography: Forest School Association. (2011) Principles and criteria for good practice.
Knight, S. (2013) Forest School and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years. 2nd Ed.
Lester, S and Maudsley, M. (2007) Play, Naturally. London: National Children’s
Lester, S. and Russell, W. (2008) Play for a Change. London: Play England
Louv, R
Moss, S. (2012) Natural Childhood. National Trust (online) Available from:
Plamer, S. (2006) Toxic Childhood. London: Orion Books Ltd.
Play England ((2009) Charter for Children’s Play. London: Play England
Play England (2014) Why is play important?
Teachers TV (2013) Outdoor Learning with Forest School Arts College Limited.
(online), Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjzFfU43wuQ
United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child
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