Updated: Jun 20, 2021
"Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, handson experiences in a natural setting. " The Forest School Association.
The roots of Forest School education reach back to open-air culture "frilufsliv" or free air life that is practiced as a normal part of the early years syllabus in many northern European countries and Scandinavia. In 1993 this idea arrived in the UK when a group of students from the early year's department at Bridgewater College went on a trip to Denmark. What they saw in Denmark was pre-school children using the local outdoor environment as a natural part of the curriculum. The teaching style and philosophy that was observed in Denmark began to form what we now know as Forest School here in the UK. First and foremost Forest School is an ethos which provides individuals with the opportunity to re-connect with the world around them in its natural state. This environment also allows them to re-connect with themselves, builds self-esteem, confidence and resilience. It also is a place where they can connect with others in a supportive learning community.
Forest school uses a holistic curriculum which focuses on the needs of its participants. The natural environment offers great opportunities for growth and development and the forest school leader produces lesson plans that build on what the natural environment already supplies. At the end of each session the participants take part in a reflective, review process which helps creates selfawareness and conscious growth.
Exploratory learning allows individuals to take controlled risks, builds inner confidence, determination and self-esteem. Forest school fosters independent and creative learners because of its supportive, equal and holistic nature. It allows its participants to believe that they can create their own learning, follow their own interests and become independent.
Nature provides Forest Schools with the rich activities and opportunities for learning, so environmental identity and sustainability are central to all that takes place. Participants learn how to support eco-systems, how to sustainably manage woodland areas, name and identify local flora and fauna and develop a deep connection, respect for the natural world.