Having a hard time to get your kids to put down their devices and go outdoors? If you are looking for a way to connect your little ones to nature, the Forest School is just for you. Here are 5 things you need to know to get started.
Don’t we wish we could just have the perfect device-free nature weekend with our children? The Early Years is one of the most important stages of your child’s development where the foundations for health, learning and character are laid down and interacting with nature has bountiful benefits for kids. However, many parents struggle to get their children outdoors.
With all the buzz around nature and outdoor learning, so
What exactly is Forest School?
If you haven’t already heard, the Forest School experience is a nature-based learning experience focusing on the holistic development of the child. It is one of the approaches used in Early Childhood Education alongside the popular Wardolf, Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches. It originated from Scandinavia and has since developed into a learning approach to support 21st-century young learners.
1. No wrong way to play
The Forest School approach is a child-led process, where children direct the learning. This gives them the opportunity to marvel at the wonders of wildlife. Facilitators (or also lovingly known as Nature Rangers at Kidz Treehouse) share real-world knowledge about what they have seen, turning every opportunity into a learning moment.
Want to balance on a rock or climb a tree? Go ahead. Essentially, there’s no right or wrong way to play and learn. Facilitators are trained to always ensure that safety is preserved when being outdoors while fostering a supportive environment for children to take risks. This encourages children to try new things and grow their resilience, confidence and problem-solving skills.
2. Conducted in natural and woodland settings
True to its name, this nature-based learning approach is conducted outdoors where nature is the classroom. During these sessions, children spend most of their time in the natural environment where they will be running and jumping over logs in the lush greenery through unstructured play in nature. This will not only grow their motor skills but also stimulate their curiosity, imagination and problem-solving skills.
3. Long term and regular
Ever wondered why forest school sessions are organised on a termly basis (12 weeks)? For effective learning to take place in the great outdoors, children need to interact with the natural environment on a regular basis. As a result, children will build a deep appreciation and love for nature, enabling them to understand the impact of their actions on the natural environment. Moreover, weekly sessions will allow for more accurate assessment and development of the child. With all that fun and learning under the sun, your little ones will be begging for more.
4. No bad weather. Just bad clothing.
Forest School holds this mantra closely – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. How many times have parents stopped their children from going out in the rain for fear of them falling sick? Here at Kidz Treehouse Explorers, children don their multi-coloured raincoats and the learning continues when it rains! From observing weather changes to learning about the ripple effect of rainwater on water puddles, tonnes of learning opportunities await your kid at the Forest School session, rain or shine.
5.Respectful to the child and nature
Above all, the Forest School experience is a meaningful learning process for the child. Forest School Leaders create a supportive environment for learners where the process is not hurried. During these sessions, children explore their interests in order to inculcate their love for learning. This also allows time for the little explorers to develop the confidence and skills he or she needs to complete a certain activity. Moreover, your little one will learn to ask for help and interact with their peers and Forest School Leaders, consequently, developing their social and communication skills.
In an urban jungle like Singapore, finding a good nature-based programme could seem like a big feat. As a whole, make sure that the forest school experience you are looking out for your little explorer checks out all of the above before committing.
Kidz Treehouse Explorers
If the Forest School experience sounds interesting to you, our Kidz Treehouse Explorers programme is happening every Saturday from 0815-1100 and selected Wednesday afternoons from 3.30pm to 6.00pm. This forest school experience is for children aged 4-7 years old to develop independence, resilience, creativity and confidence at their own pace through nature.
To learn more about Kidz Treehouse’s Forest School programme, visit kidztreehouse.com.sg/kidztreehouse-explorers
Leather, M. (2018). A critique of “Forest School” or something lost in translation. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 21(1), 5–18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-017-0006-1
Davis, B., and S. Waite. 2005. Forest Schools: An evaluation of the opportunities and challenges in Early Years. University of Plymouth report.