Shortly after starting up in 2007, we were delighted to be selected among all available UK suppliers of children's outdoor clothing to provide child waterproofs for Forest School for ten inner city Oxford schools. In a project sponsored by IKEA, Forest School leaders from the Oxford Excellence Cluster Forest School project, supported by the Forestry Education Initiative, looked at a selection of children's rainwear (including other Scandinavian brands) and were most impressed by our waterproof dungarees and rain sets from Didriksons. We were very excited about this opportunity to get involved in this worthwhile project! In January 2008 we then spent a wonderful day getting muddy with a group of enthusiastic 4-year-olds. It was a memorable and incredibly rewarding day with some very cool kids! As you can see, the children were delighted with their new, funky waterproofs, which allowed them to explore even the largest puddles in comfort...
Since then our involvement with Forest School settings all around the country has continued to grow. In March 2010 we were awarded the opportunity to equip 25 nurseries across Aberdeenshire with waterproofs; this time a 2-piece rain suit by Elka was chosen. Over the past years, we have equipped hundreds of schools and nurseries all around the UK and abroad - even as far as New Zealand! - with waterproof clothing for their outdoor settings. A growing number of full-time outdoor kindergartens also use our best-selling sets and accessories as part of their standard uniform.
"Forest School is the type of place where everybody wants to learn!" says one child who has a lesson in a 'wild' Oxfordshire woodland setting every week. In the last three years, over 1,000 Foundation Stage and Year 3 children in Oxford city have been attending regular Forest School sessions as part of the Oxford Excellence Cluster/Forest School Project. The initial funding didn't however cover protective clothing, and teachers longed for quality waterproof trousers and jackets to keep the children warm and dry.
The term "Forest School" describes a programme aiming to help groups of young children (or even adults!) to develop a range of life skills in an outdoor setting. It's a concept that originated in Sweden in the 1950s and has been widely adopted accross Scandinavia, in particular in Denmark, where it forms part of the national curriculum for 4-6-year-olds since the 1980s.
A Swedish scientific study found that 4-6-year-olds attending regular Forest School sessions showed better social skills, were happier and demonstrated better academic results than a control group of peers from similar backgrounds. Importantly, regular opportunities for outdoor play in a woodland setting resulted in improved concentration, better resistance to infection (leading to 25% fewer sick days!) and better self-esteem. This research confirms what Scandinavians have long known: good weather protective clothing, and in particular functional waterproofs, are essential for the development of happy, healthy children!
In October 2005, an 8-month study by the Forestry Commission and the New Economics Foundation concluded that "Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment."
Emphasis is placed on the regularity of Forest School sessions, no matter what the weather is like. Of course, quality protective clothing is essential to the comfort of the children and to the success of the scheme. As we say in Sweden: there is no bad weather, only poor clothing! We're delighted, in partnership with IKEA, to provide the very best wet weather gear possible to such a large number of inner city children.
Quality children's clothing from Scandinavia