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What Is Forest School, Anyway?

In a world where screens seem to be taking over, and traditional classroom settings can sometimes feel a bit, well, confining, there's an inspiring movement gaining momentum. It's all about reconnecting our children with the great outdoors and nurturing their growth in a holistic way. And, at the heart of this movement lies the captivating concept of Forest School. So, what's the buzz all about, and why are more and more families turning to it?

The Roots of Forest School

Forest School is by no means a new idea; it has deep roots in Scandinavian and European educational traditions that date back several decades. It was first developed in Denmark in the 1950s and has since spread to various parts of the world, including Canada, gaining momentum and recognition for its effectiveness in nurturing our little ones’ physical, emotional, and cognitive development.

Principles of Forest School

At its core, Forest School is a learner-centered approach to education that takes place primarily in natural environments, such as forests and other outdoor settings. Some of the key principles that define the Forest School philosophy include:

  • Nature as a Teacher: Forest School embraces the idea that nature itself is a powerful teacher. Children are encouraged to explore and engage with the natural world, fostering a deep connection with it.

  • Child-Led Learning: Unlike traditional education, Forest School prioritizes child-led learning. It treats children as capable learners, allowing them to set their own pace, choose their own activities, follow their interests, and encourages them to manage and navigate risks with educator support.

  • Holistic Development: The curriculum in Forest School focuses on holistic development, encompassing physical, emotional, social, and intellectual aspects of a child's growth.

  • Valuing the Learning Process: Forest School places a significant emphasis on valuing the learning process as much as the outcomes. It recognizes that the journey of exploration and discovery in nature is just as important as the destination. 

Benefits of Forest School

The Forest School approach offers a diverse range of benefits for children's development, including:

  • Improved Physical Health: Outdoor activities in natural environments promote physical fitness, coordination, and motor skills development.

  • Enhanced Emotional Well-being: Spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress, increased self-esteem, and improved mental health.

  • Social Skills Development: Children in Forest School settings learn to collaborate, communicate, and resolve conflicts, fostering strong social skills.

  • Environmental Awareness: An early connection to nature often leads to a lifelong appreciation for the environment and a sense of responsibility toward it.

  • Academic Gains: Research suggests that children who engage in outdoor learning tend to perform better academically, particularly in subjects related to science and the environment.

  • Creativity and Imagination: Natural settings stimulate creativity and imagination, providing children with endless opportunities for imaginative play and exploration.

Forest School is more than just an educational approach; it's a growing movement that recognizes the profound impact of nature on a child's development. 

Interested in getting your child involved? 

Learn more about this movement or register your child now for the 2023-2024 season, and stay tuned for more blog posts uncovering the unique benefits of forest school!

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