The Forest School concept originates in Denmark, where it was found that children who had attended forest pre-school then arrived at school with stronger social and communication skills. They were able to work well in groups and had higher levels of self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities, all of which helped to raise their academic achievements.
The Forest School Association describes Forest School as regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. The approach is based on six key principles:
- It is a long-term inspirational and transformational process.
- It fosters a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- It is learner-led – children express make sense of their world through self-initiated activity and play.
- It focuses on holistic development – mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual growth.
- It provides leaners with the opportunity to take supported risks.
- It is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously develop their professional practice.