Forest School is a concept that began life in this country in the late 1990’s, although it is now widely used in schools and forests up and down the country! Forest School has been adapted from a Scandinavian approach to learning. The original source was Sweden in the 1950’s, it then spread to other Scandinavian and European countries, being used mainly in pre-school, although this is rapidly changing as the value for all age groups is being recognised.
In the mid 1990’s a group of nursery nurse students and lecturers from Bridgewater College, Somerset visited Denmark and witnessed the benefits of the Danish Forest Schools firsthand. They were so inspired that they brought the concept back to the UK and started what is now recognised as ‘Forest School’.
Substancial evidence concludes that children who attend Forest School are markedly better at concentrating than those who do not. The principle reason appears to be due to the greater range of opportunities for play based learning in a natural environment, children play in a focused way for longer, with less annoyance or interruption of each other compared to being in the classroom environment. Children who work in Forest School appear to show a greater level of consideration to their peers and those who have regular exposure to Forest School have been shown to have fewer sick days, evidence sugests that exposure to the outdoors has a positive impact on mental wellbeing and general health, this may be due to the less stressful learning environment which has been shown to have an impact on the immune system. Participants gain confidence in their own ability and an increased level of self-esteem. Kinaesthetic learners are particularly suited to learning in this woodland, outdoor environment