In recent years, forest schools have been growing in popularity across the UK. The concept is simple – outdoor education in a natural setting – but the benefits are many. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of forest schools and the impact they can have on children’s education and well-being.

What is a Forest School?

A forest school is a type of outdoor education that takes place in a natural setting such as a forest or woodland. It’s an approach that encourages children to explore, play, and learn in a way that’s both fun and educational. Activities might include den building, tracking wildlife, and learning how to use tools safely. Importantly, forest schools are child-led, which means that children have the freedom to explore and discover at their own pace.

Benefits of Forest Schools

There are many benefits to forest schools, including:

  1. Improved physical health: Spending time outdoors is good for children’s physical health. Research shows that children who spend more time outside have better balance and coordination, and are less likely to be overweight or obese.
  2. Increased confidence and self-esteem: Forest schools give children the opportunity to take risks and challenge themselves in a safe environment. This can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, as well as a sense of independence and self-reliance.
  3. Enhanced cognitive development: Spending time in nature has been shown to improve cognitive development in children. It can boost memory, attention, and creativity, as well as reduce symptoms of ADHD and other behavioral disorders.
  4. Improved social skills: Forest schools provide a unique opportunity for children to learn how to communicate and work together as part of a team. They can also learn how to manage conflicts and solve problems in a collaborative way.
  5. Better mental health: Spending time in nature has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving overall well-being. This is particularly important for children, who are increasingly facing mental health challenges.

Forest Schools and the Curriculum

Forest schools can also have a positive impact on the curriculum. Research shows that children who spend more time outdoors have better academic performance and are more engaged in their learning. Forest schools can provide a context for learning that is both fun and educational, allowing children to explore concepts such as science, math, and history in a real-world setting.

Forest Schools in the UK

Forest schools are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. According to a report by the Forestry Commission, there are now over 14,000 forest schools across the country. The report also found that 95% of teachers believe that forest schools have a positive impact on children’s education and well-being.

In addition, research by the University of Essex has found that children who attend forest schools have higher levels of self-esteem and emotional resilience, and are more able to concentrate and stay on task than those who don’t.

Forest schools are a fantastic way for children to learn, explore, and have fun in a natural setting. They offer a range of benefits, including improved physical health, increased confidence and self-esteem, enhanced cognitive development, improved social skills, and better mental health. Forest schools also have the potential to enhance the curriculum, providing a context for learning that is both fun and educational. With the growing popularity of forest schools in the UK, it’s clear that they have an important role to play in children’s education and well-being.

If you’re interested in finding out more about forest schools, there are many resources available online, including the Forest School Association, which provides training and support for forest school practitioners across the UK.