What is Forest School and Why is it important?
With the industrial revolution people left the outdoors and began working indoors. As a species we have spent millennia outside and it is not natural for us to spend so much time sitting indoors. In recent times it has lead to obesity, behaviour problems and poor social skills. The Scandinavian countries have shown how learning outdoors is not only possible all year round but essential.
Children need boundaries. We apply a physical boundary marked with red ribbons to demonstrate how far they are permitted to go in search of interesting sticks, leaves, places to hide, places to be. Once this has been established and agreed with them the rest is up to them.
There is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothes!
Warm clothes, a good rain coat and rainproof trousers, wellies with warm socks, and a change of clothes (just in case) is all children need to face the Irish weather. There is no reason in the world why they shouldn't go outside once they are dressed for it.
The syllabus varies from group to group depending on the make-up of the group and due to the fact that this is child-led learning. However, during forest school, the children through interaction with other children develop their social and communication skills. While looking for material to carry out a task that has been set for them their observation skills, creativity and language is developed, which benefits their self esteem, confidence and overall well-being.
Learning to take risks is a life skill, and knowing how to deal with the outcomes is the development of resilience. Parents, in an attempt to protect their children from harm, can sometimes wrap their children in cotton-wool to the detriment of their development into happy healthy resilient beings. It is important for children to learn how to deal with small accidents so that they will develop the emotional strength to deal with bigger ones when they happen in their lives.