Have you heard of Forest Schools? Or Maybe Nature Schools?
Forest Schools are a growing trend here in the states, but are widely more popular in Europe. Cedarsong is the probably most widely known Forest School here in the states. Nature Schools seem to be a little more common than Forest Schools here, but they both share a main goal….. Connecting kids to nature and using nature to learn.
I, personally, would love to send my children to a true forest school. I started my own nature nursery school at my home after leaving education, but I still LOVE the idea of getting out into nature (more than just my simple backyard) 80% or more of the kiddos day (in all weather conditions). We just don’t have the property available to us at the moment to run a true forest school.
Forest schools are very unique and allow the children to develop a deep sense of appreciation and connection to nature. Let’s face it, with technology taking over our daily lives and the way we have grown disconnected from nature, our kiddos NEED to get connected to nature in order to help us save this great planet.
So what are Forest Schools?
- Natural Environment: They are a school that takes place in the natural environment. Most of the time, I picture children running around and playing in the heart of the forest. However, forest schools can occur in a garden area, outside area at schools, etc. Basically, any natural place that children can use to learn in.
- Child-Led: Child-led learning is just what it sounds like. It’s allowing the children to learn using their own interest, play, etc. “Teachers” or nature mentors as I like to call them are simply their to help engage them in their play by asking questions, talking to the children, and observing from a short distance. This is a much different approach than our typical public school uses.
- Appropriate Risk: There is something a little risky about children playing in the heart of a forest, but that’s a good thing. Children can grow and develop their gross motor, fine motor skills, and engage all of their senses in nature. Children will learn what their body is capable of experiencing playing on uneven surfaces, balancing on logs, climbing trees and other “risky” environments.
I’m Melissa Dow, M.ED. I am a wife, mama of 2 and a bonus mama of 1. A former public school educator with 7 years of experience in both special education and general education who is on a new journey to help parents guide their children to uncover their true passions in order to find their life purpose. I love spending time out in nature whether hiking, running, camping, canoeing or just playing in our backyard (aka our outdoor classroom). I also enjoy reading, learning new things, organic gardening and creating our a simple life.