Forest School

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What is Forest School?

A Forest School is a long-term outdoor education process that is holistic and learner-led. It allows children to develop themselves through healthy engagement with risk, problem-solving and self-discovery, all within a natural environment in a hands-on and thoughtful manner. All forms of outdoor education are valuable, but Forest Schools have their own philosophies and ethos that benefit children in unique ways.

Forest Schools are delivered through several regular sessions over an extended period of time – ideally weekly over at least a year, to incorporate different seasons. Many Forest Schools are aimed at primary school age children, pre-schools and nurseries, but sessions are highly beneficial for teenagers as well.  Although some Forest Schools are stand-alone, some state and private schools may use funding to employ a Forest School practitioner to run sessions for their pupils throughout the year.

Why is it Beneficial for Children to Attend Forest School?

The benefits of Forest School are linked to the long-term, regular sessions, and echo the holistic development aims in the six guiding principles. Research has shown that children can benefit in a multitude of ways ranging from confidence to social, emotional, intellectual, physical and language development (Murray & O’Brien, 2005).

Case studies have shown children can:

  • Develop self-regulation skills.

  • Cope with and learn from failure.

  • Build resilience (the skill of coping with risk and failure).

  • Gain a sense of achievement.

  • Increase motivation and concentration.

  • Improve problem solving.

  • Expand their vocabulary and communication skills.

  • Feel empowered and have new perspectives.

  • Build positive relationships with adults and peers.

  • Have overall improved wellbeing and mental health.

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