What is a Forest School?
The concept of a Forest School has been around for a long time, in fact, since the 1920s, where the first Forest School was introduced in Wisconsin USA. Since then Forest Schools (or adaptations of) have since spread through Europe – being popularised during the 1950s in Sweden and Denmark in particular. The first Forest Schools to begin popping up in the United Kingdom were in the 1990s, where the ethos of Forest School education has gone from strength to strength – now being a popularised and well known term for a form of outdoor education.
The Idea Behind Forest School Education
Using a woodland setting as the ‘outdoor classroom’ Forest School activities include various different skills bringing together nature-based learning with traditional learning techniques, designed to promote the growth of social skills, self-esteem and confidence in ability through hands on practical skills as well as physical fitness and a greater understanding and respect of the natural environment that surrounds us.
Teamwork and problem solving play an important role in forest school activities and can be demonstrated in skills such as den building, where children work together to solve problems in a fun and dynamic way.
Other practical skills include outdoor cooking, knot work, fire building and the ways in which fires are lit with use of camping tools, such as firesteels. One skill, to the surprise of some, is that of knife craft – for woodcarving, teaching children how to use bladed items responsibly, and help promote them as day to day tools. This can be achieved through the carving of objects, cutting of wood with saws or splitting firewood for the campfire – skills we all once possessed through necessity.
Forest School Settings
Each woodland setting is different – for example unmanaged woodlands which are being returned to traditional management techniques may allow for conservation work to be carried out, such as coppicing, or the planting of native species of tree. Whilst mature forests with less understory due to a heaver cover of canopy are better suited to outdoor games and play activities – many woodland settings allowing for both as the seasons change.
Forest School education is more than a single subject – it encompasses a vast range of topics and skill sets which are designed to promote independence and self-esteem in children as well as adults. The beautiful surroundings and relaxed atmosphere bring new life to learning, as well as a better understanding for the environment and ultimately respecting our natural world.
Here at Forest School Shop we supply many Forest Schools within and outside of the United Kingdom with a vast array of specialist Forest School equipment to help aid the learning experience of individuals being taught through Forest Schools, Environmental classes or indoor classrooms.
If you are part of an existing Forest School, or are about to start your own exciting Forest School projects then here at Forest School Shop we can help you – just give us a call or email and we will do our utmost to help support you and your Forest School in any way that we can.
For further information on Forest Schools and how to choose the right Forest School for you, please visit the Forest School Association’s Website.