What are the benefits of forest schools? 6 key concepts

What are the benefits of forest schools?

Inspired by the Scandinavian approach to early years learning, forest schools are becoming increasingly popular across Europe, Asia and the USA. Considering the many wonderful ways in which forest schools can support children to thrive emotionally, socially and physically, it’s easy to see why many parents are keen to get their kids learning outdoors. Here we look at just some of the benefits of forest schools.

 

What are the benefits of forest schools?

What are the benefits of forest schools?

Let’s take a look

 

Holistic development

Forest schools encourage learning through play, where children are able to gain confidence and self-esteem by letting their curious nature and creativity lead the way. The ideology is simple – to nurture complete development of the child as a whole. This includes building emotional, social and physical skills through exploration of the natural world, which are all important for forming a solid foundation for positive development and overall well being.

 

Social and language skills

Designed to be enjoyed over a long period of time with a consistent peer group, children often grow strong friendships and feel a sense of community within their forest school. As they build, cook, explore and play together, children will naturally encounter brilliant opportunities for the development of vital social skills. By communicating with others to achieve a common goal, they can also develop their vocabulary and negotiation skills.

 

What are the benefits of forest schools?

What are the benefits of forest schools?

Physical and intellectual development

As children explore the world around them, climbing trees, building fires or harvesting crops or water, they naturally come across obstacles and problems. Taking knowledge from others and using their own ideas to overcome these challenges creates a thirst for learning, which massively increases children’s confidence and resilience. As they play, they are also developing fine and gross motor skills, as well as stamina, agility, balance and strength.

 

Emotional and spiritual development

Sessions typically include periods of reflection, where compassionate leaders allow children to discuss what they have achieved, as well as what they struggled with and any failures they experienced. This develops their emotional intelligence, so they can better understand and express how they feel. Through spending quality time outside, they also develop a deep connection with nature whilst strengthening their relationships with both adults and other children.

Supported risk-taking

Forest schools are all about freedom, and a big part of that is allowing children to take risks. Children can be taught how to safely use screwdrivers, knives, axes, matches and learn about campfire safety. This empowers them, teaching them new perspectives and encouraging their independence.

It’s important to remember that whilst there is an emphasis on low intervention, that doesn’t mean no intervention – they are supervised when using dangerous tools. By exploring crafting tools and enjoying activities like building rope swings and mud sliding down hills, children’s self-esteem and sense of independence can be massively increased.

 

Creativity and fun

Overall, forest schools provide a fun, creative environment where children can let their imaginations run free whilst seamlessly benefiting from mental and physical stimulation which is sure to nurture their mind, body and spirit.

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