Forest and Beach School

Did you know that only 10% of children aged 2-5 are believed to be achieving the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations for 180 minutes of physical activity every day? Children are spending more time sitting down or not moving at a higher frequency than ever before, and this is having a huge impact on their health and ability to learn. Prolonged periods sat down actually starts the ageing process early in children even as young as the age of six, hardening the arteries and creating inflammation in the system.

Early years are critical for instilling a love of moving and the necessary building blocks for children to move well and move more. Physical activity is critical for children’s physical and emotional development and specifically for brain function. The evidence is clear; increased physical activity and reduced sitting time will have a direct impact on wellbeing and ultimately result in increased cognition and achievement (‘Children have stopped Moving’ by Chris Wright, Director of the Youth Sport Trust).

Lakehouse and Stationhouse have always stressed the importance of health, well-being and the outdoors. Our nursery locations were chosen specifically for their large gardens and access to open spaces. Since opening in 2011 our team have been out and about with children of all ages exploring the local community. This passion led us to be the first local nursery to introduce forest school as a core part of our curriculum in 2012 and since then outdoor learning has been fully embedded in to the day to day experience for all of our children. We are now a fully-fledged Forest and Beach school, employing our very own Forest School Leaders who are also highly experienced Early Years Practitioners. We encourage children in our care to be active, and connected to the local community and environment; and our amazing locations mean that we can enjoy the diverse environments on our doorstep.

In partnership with you, our vision is to create a new norm for our little ones to ensure that all children in our care are in the 10% who are meeting or exceeding the 3 hours of physical exercise per day. Walking up to 5 miles per session the groups explore all of the amazing natural environments Portishead has to offer, from the Ancient Woodland, the Nature Reserve with its lakes, ponds and bird hides, to the beaches, marina, parks and our very own allotment. Our little ones are ambassadors in the local community, supporting Turn the Tide and Portishead in Bloom in keeping Portishead tidy and reducing and recycling plastic waste.

Over the last few years we have noticed a huge increase in our children’s resilience, listening and concentration, energy levels and team work; as well as their knowledge of the local flora and fauna. By the time they leave for school they can identify different trees; bird species and their calls; they’ve cooked food in fire pits; built dens; climbed trees; grown fruit and vegetables and used them in their cooking; can identify street signs and know how to be safe and behave on roads, around the lake and marina; but more importantly are mindful of the environment and are confident in their ability to protect and navigate through it.

Our Preschool Forest School enables us to offer Forest School sessions to all of our Preschool children, allowing them to be immersed in nature each week and to learn about their natural surroundings, their local community and how to treat and protect our planet. Our forest school builds resilience and helps children develop their thinking and problem- solving skills.