"Little Forest is absolutely amazing! Since the children get to decide what they will learn each day, they get strongly engaged in their learning, and since it has to be a relevant learning topic, their progress is incredible."

 - Parent - 

About learning at Little Forest

Child-led, consent based

We are a rights respecting learning community and we combine individual freedom to learn with the structure of our meetings and respect for the rights of children and nature. Each morning, we meet in order to connect, to express gratitude and to plan our day together. At the end of each day we meet to plan for the following week so that the children are equal partners in the planning process. We are genuinely child centred and we are able to adapt our plans to respond to the inspiration, interests and needs of each child on the day. As educators we are participants in the learning process and we learn alongside and with the children. 

Our strengths lie in observing each child, noticing their interests and facilitating their learning when they are ready and at their own pace. Children are happiest and learn best when they have agency over what and how they learn, when their competence is supported and when they feel connected with those around them. We work in partnership with each child and weave in opportunities for learning as they naturally arise through the course of the day. 

Our practice is always consent based. It is important to us that we support children's intrinsic motivation to learn and so we never use rewards or punishments. Instead we build trusting relationships, celebrate together, communicate honestly and draw children's attention to the natural consequences of their choices. We use a restorative approach to rebuild relationships if things go wrong. 

Children playing after a restorative meeting in which they reached a place of deep empathy for the needs of the other and conflict melted away

Ecological Democracy

We know that human beings live interdependently with all living beings who share our home on Earth. We are one Earth family and we need each other. Learning to care for ourselves, each other and the natural world is at the heart of everything that we do at Little Forest. 

Ecological democracy is an active process of balancing the needs of people and nature, to create health and vitality for all. The Children's Fire is an ancient pledge that 'no decision and no action will harm the children'. This pledge involves considering the impact of our decisions and actions on all species, including our own, now and seven generations into the future. 

Since Little Forest opened in January 2023, the children have been honing and refining a democratic process which gives them freedom to learn whilst also making sure that our decisions and actions support life for all nature's children. The process that we have developed is simple, practical and it has prompted some incredible conversations. Through this process, the children are growing their ability for systems thinking and future thinking skills, to help regenerate our world. 

We are inspired by four key ideas:  

These deeply rooted ideas are as relevant today as they ever have been. In 2015, the Welsh Government passed the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and became the first nation in the world to appoint a Future Generations Commissioner. Likewise, the company Faith In Nature has appointed Nature to sit on it's Board of Directors. These are signs that society is transitioning from an industrial society to an ecological society. At Little Forest we give children the opportunity to be participants in this transition. 

Mac MaCartney Introduces The Children's Fire

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

This is one of the children speaking on behalf of Otter, "Otter objects to all of the pollution and litter in our rivers". This was the inspiration for our Rivers Project. We travelled the length of the River Arun from source to sea, we signed the Universal Declaration On the Rights of Rivers, and we decided to create a river charter banner. 

Growth and Transformation

Children are challenged to share their learning with others in and beyond our learning community and to use their learning to help make the world a better place. Each child's learning journey is captured in their own sketchbook learning journal. We build skills for children to use their journal to record, reflect and plan; a tool for them to own their journey of growth and to share their story with others. 

At the end of each full term, we offer family days and parent meetings to share and celebrate the learning of each child. So far, our family days have included a children's performance of The Greatest Show on Earth at the end of Winter Term 1, a shared family meal planned and prepared by the children at the end of Spring Term 1 and Samhain Stories, written and told by the children, performed to their families at the end of the Autumn term. We have seen the children share their learning journals and recount their learning journeys with such passion and excitement at these small family events. 

Preparing for The Greatest Show on Earth: The children wrote the scripts, made puppets, made the shoe-box theatre, designed the sets and gathered props. 

Rehearsals for The Greatest Show on Earth: The 4.6 Billion Year History of Life on Planet Earth (and the next 5 billion years to come)