Forest School History
Forest School first originated in Scandinavia in the 1950s and was modelled on an ancient Nordic philosophy 'friluftsliv', which translates to, living in the open air with a connection with nature. This was later adopted by the UK in the 1990s, and has since become widely accepted across the UK as a valuable alternative mode of learning for all ages. It has also spread to many parts of the world including USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland, to name a few. The outdoor setting naturally captures the interest of children and they are intrinsically motivated to learn and grow. We harness that natural urge, and adopt a child led way of teaching. Because of this, we make learning fun as it is led by the child and we do not have to try and capture the child's attention.
Safety is emphasised in the Forest School practice as we believe in creating a safe space for children to play. Focus is placed on observing children’s learning styles and schemas, where we will note down their behaviour traits to chart their progress.
Principles of Forest School
Forest School is a long-term process of frequent, regular sessions in a nature environment, rather than a one off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.
Forest School takes place in a natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and themselves.
Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice
Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning
Forest School Benefits
social and emotional well being
The outdoor environment is tough and requires communication and teamwork. Through interacting with other children freely, children learn to compromise and accommodate others’ feelings. Their emotional intelligence will improve as they learn how to understand one another.
self esteem and confidence
At Forest School, we focus on the process of learning and not the outcome. When children get the freedom to do things simply because they enjoy doing it, and not because they have to achieve a pre determined outcome, their self esteem & confidence improves as they begin to feel good about themselves and what they are capable of.
resilience, spiritual development
Nature throws up different challenges, from difficult terrain to rain during outdoor cooking. Children develop mental strength to cope with these difficulties and to come up with solutions to deal with problems.
We practice mindfulness which helps to raise awareness, also helps reduce anxiety and sharpen concentration skills.
intellectual, creative thinking
We often include art and craft activities that require children to use natural resources. Through storytelling and role-playing, they get to exercise their creative thought processes. During our sessions, children are encouraged to learn more about the flora and fauna through creating their own resource guides.
At Forest School, children get the space and freedom that may otherwise not be available in their daily routine. They are physically active and their agility improves as they get to do things tree climbing. Their dexterity also improves through handcraft activities. They also learn to overcome their fear of mud and dirt, and soon realise that having fun is so much more important!
Understanding Children’s Play Urges
We take play very seriously and understand that each child has different learning styles and schemas. Examples of styles include visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. Identifying which style the child is more inclined to will enable us to understand how the child prefers to process information.
Similarly schemas are urges that children have to do certain things, like climb, lie down, throw, line things up or hide. It is how their natural instinct of how to make sense of the world. It is important to be aware of these schemas so that we can better understand each child's actions and not mistake it for misbehaving.
The impulse to play is innate and it is essential for the healthy development of the individual, including adults! When children play, they are following their instincts, ideas and interests. Our role is to facilitate the play process in the creation of spaces to play, development of play policy and strategy.