Benefits of Forest School
There is an abundance of information regarding the widespread benefits for children of involvement in forest school activities and we encourage any parent or carer thinking of sending a child into such a setting to investigate this information. A summary of the main areas of benefit (supported by academic research and presented in places like the website of the Forest School Association) lists the main areas of benefit to include:
Communication and Language Development
Resulting from cooperative activities and the ways in which forest school leads to encounters with new experiences, plants and animals previously unknown to children and requires them to discuss their experiences as they happen.
Goes along with communication and language development as children understand each other, appreciate the ways in which they all contribute to solving problems and sharing experiences and understand the importance of everyone in a group feeling safe and involved.
Movement, appreciation of risk, assessing their own risks building up their resilience and the range of conditions provided by different environments and weather conditions all lead children to become more physically adept and to improve levels of fitness, along with the development of fine motor skills including improved balance and dexterity.
Forest school environments are guaranteed to change, provide surprises, and constantly challenge young children to find the words and ideas to understand the changes they see. Because such environments are – by nature – unpredictable, curiosity and spontaneous learning both arise repeatedly.
Children naturally reflect on living things whilst in a forest environment and much of what happens naturally involves learning to care for and appreciate the needs of a range of life forms, including plants and animals. Children also work collaboratively and care for each other. All such developments come with an increasingly sophisticated vocabulary and understanding of emotional states, children will build up the skills to solve disputes amongst themselves.
Forest school is not a religious experience but it is impossible to take part in forest school activities without being reminded that your actions connect you to something much bigger than yourself and they have consequences which can be felt in the wider environment.