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NEW Forest School at First Steps Nursery, Furness Vale

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First Steps Nursery Furness Vale Sheila Worthington Forest School

A more traditional way of life is behind the decision for nursery owner Sheila Worthington to develop her Forest School at the First Steps Nursery at Furness Vale.

As she leads the way for other local nurseries to follow, Sheila believes that the Scandinavian model of forest schools is exactly what today's British children need.

Children today are under more pressure than ever before, leading to negative impacts on their health and well being. Children are spending more time indoors on electronic devices, are taking less exercise, eating poor food choices, becoming obese at an increasingly earlier age and are being treated for mental health disorders at an alarming rate.

Sheila, who initially started her High Peak nursery provision in 2004, firmly believes in the Scandinavian forest school model of a more traditional childhood involving outdoor play and a different approach to learning.

She now describes her nursery as `an outdoor nursery with indoor facilities'. A forest school has been proven to build children's confidence and promote high self-esteem. By being outside, children learn through play about nature and their surroundings.

They are encouraged to use their imagination, take safe risks and make decisions for themselves with this holistic way of learning housed in a calming woodland setting.

A forest school encourages children to be out in different weathers, to get muddy hands and feet, muddy wellies and clothes. Proven benefits include improvements in social and physical skills, increased stamina, healthier bodies, creativity and greater independence. 

Sheila says: "Our nursery children who are under two will access the outdoor area for shorter periods of time but children aged two to five will be able to access the outdoors from 9am to 4pm. We are going back to a more traditional way of life where children are encouraged to play outside, wear wellies, get dirty and be curious. A forest school offers a more relaxed way of life where children discover things for themselves.

"Many people don't realise that a forest school improves learning through a child's natural curiosity and helps them to live a healthier and more active life at a young age like children used to do.''

The response from parents, says Sheila, has been excellent with the concept of a forest school.

Sheila and her highly qualified management team are delighted with the progress of the forest school and some places are still available.

"We still have the indoor baby section of the nursery, the sensory room and the story room and all the indoor facilities for the under two's. Forest schools are definitely a thing of the future and I am very proud to be one of the first in the High Peak area,'' said Sheila.

For more information, and to check availability, take a look at the website www.nurseriesinderbyshire.co.uk or ring 01663 746632.

Please see ‘The Gallery’ for more photos of the children enjoying their outdoor play.