Forest School Education
What is Forest School?
Forest School education is an approach that began in the late 1950s, primarily in Europe, and has spread more recently to North America. In a Forest School program, children spend anywhere from a half day to a full day outdoors in meadows, forests, mountains, shorelines and natural spaces. Forest School education fosters children’s development through child based learning, outdoor play, collaborative & independent inquiry and exploration in an outdoor setting. Having time to regularly visit and learn in the same forested land is an excellent chance for children to connect with nature, themselves and to build healthy relationships with their peers. The Forest School program helps to build children’s self-awareness, communication skills, critical and creative thought, self-confidence and the ability to navigate risk.
All Forest School programs adhere to: regular and repeated access to a natural space, as well as child-directed, emergent and inquiry-based learning. The defining feature of this type of nature-based education program is that children are provided with opportunities to build an on-going relationship with the land, to a dedicated educator, to one another, and to themselves through this educational lens.” – Forest School Canada
For more information on what a Forest School education is all about please visit Forest School Canada
Why outdoor learning is important?
Being outside in a natural environment has been shown to relieve stress by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain. Children are increasingly surrounded by stressful situations and environments such as media, busy urban environments, academic testing, screen time etc. and being able to learn outside gives them the time needed to relax, enjoy themselves and be stress free. In addition, learning outside helps children to build a personal connection with nature. Ideally, this personal connection with nature will allow our future generations to understand and value the natural world.
What happens on an ‘average’ day at Forest School?
The day’s activities at Forest School are free-flowing and dynamic, as they depend on the ever-changing natural environment in which the program takes place (changing seasons, evidence of animals, emergence of new flowers, insect activity, effects of weather on the land etc.) and on the interpersonal relationships formed between the children and educators in the group. Educators can also add to the day’s learning by introducing provocations such as simple tools and loose parts used for building and creating. Forest School educators follow the lead of the children, focusing on their interests and questions of the day and allowing for independent play as well as collaboration. We open and close each day in the gathering space where we may incorporate literacy activities such as stories, poems, songs, plays, sharing, artwork and music-making to expand on the children’s learning and discoveries. On an average day we spend most of our time outdoors, rain or shine!
Benefits of Forest School and “Raison d’Etre”
We created Oro Medonte Forest School because we believe that children (as well as adults!!) will benefit greatly from access to the natural world on a regular basis. By observing our own children and their peers playing in the forest, we have seen how the natural world can evoke such powerful questions and stimulate very elaborate and imaginative games. We know that many children are spending a great deal of time inside, or inactive, and we hope to offer a different approach to learning. Research shows that participation in Forest School can lead to improvement in:
- Gross motor skills
- Fine motor skills
- Physical fitness and stamina
- Ability to work with others
- Language development
- Understanding and respect for the natural environment