Forest Schools originated in Sweden in the 1950’s and spread through Scandinavia and Europe. The Forest schools concept was established in Denmark for pre school children (up to 7 years) in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s some of these forest schools settings were visited by interested early years professionals from Britain and Forest schools was born in Britain.
A study in Sweden found that children going to Forest School in a countryside environment were much happier than children in urban kindergartens. Children were more balanced and socially capable. They were healthier because by being outside they were not exposed to as many viruses and bacteria. They also had better immune systems.
When the Forest school children started school they had stronger social skills, were able to work in groups, had high self esteem and confidence in their own capabilities. Forest schools provides opportunities outside for children and adults to develop life skills such as independence, self awareness and social communication skills which help individuals grow in self-esteem and confidence. They also gain confidence in their own capability. This way of learning is particularly suited to kinaesthetic learners. By being outside in a woodland environment they have space to get up and move about and have a “hands on” approach to learning whilst physically interacting with resources.
Forest School is becoming more widespread across Britain as teachers and practitioners see for themselves the impact it is having on children who have been involved in Forest School settings.
Forest School Leaders includes teachers, early years specialists, youth workers, woodland owners and craftspeople. Forest Schools use a different range of woodland settings to meet the needs of client groups and evidence has been compiled demonstrating positive outcomes on children relating to an increase in self-esteem, an ability to work with others, learning about the outdoors, developing a sense of ownership of the environment, providing motivation to learn, and increasing knowledge and skills.