What is Forest School?
Forest school community
We gather together for songs, for food, to cook and for stories. We listen to each other and share ideas and become part of a community
British Forest Schools have been adapted and developed from the original concept implemented in Scandinavia in the 1950’s called 'Friluftsliv’ literally ‘fresh air life’ was originally a Norwegian expression and is a concept deeply ingrained in their culture (Knight 2009). Research in Sweden found and concluded that children who attended Forest school were significantly happier and more content than those in urban kindergartens,had better concentration than the city kindergarten children; were more balanced, less stressed, and had a greater social capability; had 25% fewer days off sick and had better developed co-ordination than children in city kindergartens.
It was recognised that this ‘outdoor’ approach to play and learning can have a huge impact on the normal development of all children and those who had attended. Contact with the outdoors is often limited for many children in modern society, and the vital experience of using the outdoors and being comfortable in nature is being lost. Research backs up that children and young people are stimulated by the outdoors. Forest Schools has demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis and through play, who have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others and over time increase in their self-belief, confidence, concentration, enthusiasm, communication and problem solving skills and their emotional well-being. Thus, the Forest school ethos is an ideal platform for developing the whole child.
As a member of the Forest School Association I happily follow the FSA principles:
· “FS is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
· FS takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
· FS uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
· FS aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
· FS offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
· FS is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice”
Forest School is not a badge or a place but an innovative holistic educational approach to outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment that seeks to encourage, motivate, engage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences over an extended period of time.
It promotes, observes and explicitly supports the social, physical, intellectual, cognitive, emotional and spititual development (SPICES) of children, young people and adults in an outdoor, preferably woodland, environment. It occurs regularly all the year round, in order to enhance a coherent understanding of the rhythm of life.
Forest schools empower children to take responsibility and to be independent learners as they engage in motivating and achievable tasks and activities, work with tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social and in turn establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and motivation whilst developing an understanding of the natural world.