Forest School education was first introduced in the 1950s in certain Scandinavian countries, particularly Denmark. By the time it arrived in some parts of Europe in the early 90s, Asian countries had also caught wind of its advantages.
Despite being relatively new in Singapore, the forest school concept has continuously made headway over the years. But what exactly makes this non-traditional educational set up so alluring to educators, parents and children worldwide?
Truly, choosing a non-traditional education for your child can be a daunting experience. So in this blog, we will be exploring some of the benefits that you, as a parent, can anticipate for your children in a forest school!
Benefits of Forest Schools for Young Children
In forest schools, learning is held in the natural environment to give children the opportunity to develop their curiosities as well as to build a positive, long lasting relationship with the natural world.
Nothing beats being “out there” and experiencing the world as it moves and changes. To help you decide, we listed some of the most notable benefits of a holistic forest school education.
1. Physical Benefits
If there is one word that immediately comes to mind when people talk about Forest Schools, it’s definitely “adventure”!
Forest school curriculum are centred around unstructured, child-led learning that expects learners to engage in a wide array of physical activities. These forest activities contribute to the development of gross and fine motor skills, readying young learners for larger movements once they’re older. Children will also grow to become more physically fit with improved muscle strength and a stronger immune system.
Ultimately, this active environment creates adventure-seeking individuals who are equipped with a variety of physical skills that help develop body control and coordination.
2. Social and Emotional Benefits
Some forest school activities support and encourage the early socialization of learners. It creates a bond, one that is not only among children, but also between young learners and the natural world. By engaging with other learners during physical activities, children will also get to develop their social skills as well as increase their proclivity for teamwork and collaboration.
In terms of emotional benefits, a forest school education also has a lot to offer: one of the more noteworthy benefits is that this approach encourages guided risk-taking among children and exposes them to the associated slew of emotions. . This raises their resiliency, aids in their decision-making, nurtures independence and develops empathy for others and for nature.
Forest school sessions are “risk-aware” and not “risk-averse”. This means that learners are encouraged to try things out, and trying things out is usually met with its own set of challenges and risks. Forest school practitioners help the learners overcome such risks so they can learn to manage them better.
3. Mental Health Benefits
Being outdoors also has great mental health benefits. Young learners who are exposed to nature are discovered to have stronger and healthier mental capacities, such as improved concentration, lower stress levels and a better ability to manage anxiety and depression.
Because forest schools require children to be active outside, they have a better outlet for their boundless energy. Others also see forest school education to be an effective antidote to nature deficit disorder– a deficiency that more children are becoming exposed to these days because of their fixation on gadgets and screens. Forest schools are also effective for children who do not necessarily fare well in a close, classroom environment. What’s more interesting is that children who are behind their counterparts inside a classroom set up are sometimes found to flourish and improve in forest schools.
4. Creative Benefits
Research has shown that forest schools have a lot of creative benefits for children. For one, being outside and doing activities involve a lot of creating and building from scratch. This stimulates imaginative, hands on play, encouraging young learners to be one with the natural world and utilise natural resources like leaves, mud, wood, water, etc.
In addition, the less structured forest school setting allows children to come up with non traditional ways to solve problems. And what better way to improve creativity than to expose them to natural world objects that they can mould! These creativity-led nature play sessions maximise child-led learning so they can use their creative faculties better.
5. Intellectual Benefits
In forest schools, academics are approached in a more engaging manner. Nothing beats getting front row seats to the unpredictable changes happening in the natural world– and by being engaged outside, young learners can use their senses to see the changing weather, get familiar with the life cycle of elements in the ecosystem, and so on.
Not only that, but forest schools also expose children to greater experiential learning, enabling them to learn to use their cognition better and gain more practical skills. This prepares children for more advanced education: when forest school education was first introduced in Denmark, people noticed that children from it went to the next phase of education more ready and armed with a strong understanding of how things work, especially in the environment.
Moreover, practitioners in forest schools are expected not to direct learning but to support it. This allows children to explore their interests and curiosities at their own pace in a less structured manner, with minimal intervention from facilitators.
6. Language and Communication Benefit
Experiences in forest schools help expand learners’ vocabulary. There are a lot of opportunities for children to listen, speak their minds and articulate their thoughts with peers in this type of environment. Through frequent collaborative activities, young learners will grow to become more confident in speaking up, and learn to be mindful and accepting of others’ ideas as well.
The sensory experiences in forest schools will also prompt the use and development of language, as children become better at asserting their ideas and exploring the ideas of others, which is crucial to their overall development.
Here in Primus Forest School, we put a premium on language immersion and focus on English and Mandarin instruction to ensure that children can be exposed to the languages at an early age, before formal training begins.
As an approach, a forest school education is varied and dynamic. While it doesn’t necessarily seek to replace the classroom set up, it definitely works as a great complementary, able to supplement—if not magnify—traditional education.
The benefits of forest schools are vast. From survival skills to musical and linguistic skills, our children will bring home many learning takeaways and fun memories. And this child-led and play-centred approach to learning might be the best option for many parents who are looking for something exciting for their young learners.
Let your child benefit from an outstanding education with Primus Forest School! Familiarise yourself with our holistic programme or connect with us. Book a forest school tour today so you can experience for yourself the hands on forest school education that inspires children to lead a life of learning!