05/02/2021

Categories: Early Years and Childhood Studies, Undergradute

Forest School and its Role in Child Development

Forest School and its Role in Child Development

Anyone interested in early years and childhood studies will have heard of Forest School. Practitioners use the outdoors as a learning environment and provide experiences that complement indoor learning, home learning and other teaching environments. Children enjoy being outdoors, and it is undeniable that they learn new skills in this environment, but can Forest School really support child development in the early years?

Being outdoors is essential, fresh air, exercise, time in the sun, interacting with nature. These are all things that any health or education practitioner will tell you are important to development and wellbeing at any age. Forest School takes this one step further, turning the whole outdoors into an interactive learning environment. Doing so encourages problem-solving, calculated risk-taking, and communication skills. It also helps children to develop confidence and self-belief over time. Most importantly, it makes learning fun and gives new respect and understanding for the natural world.

Improving Health

Health is an integral part of child development. We learn better and are more focused when we are fit and healthy. Being outdoors is an important part of this both in terms of physical and mental health. Forest School supports young children in developing healthy bodies and minds. Children are physically active during Forest School sessions and are faced with new tasks and challenges. As they overcome these in a supportive environment, they develop their self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

Risk-taking

We live in a very risk-averse society. This means that young children are often kept away from anything that could potentially do them harm. While this is understandable as we have a duty of care, it also means that children do not learn to manage risk and understand how to challenge themselves safely. Knowing why some things are dangerous, why precautions should be taken, and what it means to calculate risks are vital skills for young children. During Forest School, young children learn this through practical activities that include fire, knives, pointy sticks and many other natural elements, including the weather.

 

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