Forest schools is a method of promoting and encouraging holistic growth and development in groups of learners of all ages, by using the woodland context to take part in achievable, repeated tasks, that involve supported risk taking, appropriate to the environment and themselves.
In other words…
Spending time in forests and woodland has been shown to have huge, positive, impacts on mental health and well-being. Combine with that the marvellous sense of achievement that comes from the act of building or creating something using simple tools, a skill that has been mostly lost from modern day society, and you have the perfect recipe for a real, tangible, positive impact for people of all ages and from all walks of life.
The benefits of Forest Schools are not purely emotional. There are huge social benefits and physical benefits too.
Many of the tasks and activities are pair or group based, requiring communication, collaboration and co-operation. Three very important skills that young learners can build upon and use in their outside life and older learners can use to break down barriers and strengthen bonds.
On the physical side, we all know that being more active gives great health benefits. When this is in the woods, the need to move about safely without tripping on roots or the undergrowth, really helps to develop spacial awareness and gross motor skills. Other tasks such as knot tying and bead threading or tool use, such as sawing or whittling, then aid the find motor skills, which can then lead to improved pen control and improved handwriting.
Most of all, it’s fun!