It’s time. Get your kids outdoors with weekly forest school
Well, thank Fanny’s UnCle Kevin it’s spring. Technically anyway. Finally we can let the kids loose in the great outdoors without them whining about freezing fingers or having to deal with layers of wet clothing when we get home.
As the weather gets better, forest school is the activity buzzword of the moment. Some people are moaning about it on mumsnet and others are shouting about it’s virtues. So, what is forest school and why should parents be paying attention?
Long-term studies show the benefits of children engaging with nature on a regular basis, including increased self-esteem, resilience, confidence, concentration and social and verbal skills. This is in addition to the benefits of Vitamin D from the sunlight and a boost to the body’s levels of serotonin from soil micro-organisms.
Forest schools offer all these benefits because they are designed to get children outside and discovering their natural environment. Recognising the importance of regular contact with nature from an early age, forest schools offer the chance to do appropriately challenging but play-led tasks that build confidence, skills and independence. Children might spend time building dens and climbing trees or learning how to light a campfire safely. They get to play and explore and get as dirty as they like.
The great thing about it is that they can do all this under the watchful eye of professionally qualified forest school educators. So if you don’t feel like standing around while your kids go mad in the woods, you don’t have to.
Many schools and nurseries offer forest school sessions now and there are also extra-curricular sessions your children can attend.
If the idea of forest school sounds horrific – you know, if mud, sticks and bugs aren’t your thing – you could look into beach schools instead. Not quite as accessible for everyone, but if you live within a reasonable distance of the sea this could be a great option for getting the kids out in the fresh air.
Beach schools aren’t just a case of visiting the beach to pick up shells and build sandcastles. Led by real educational purpose, children at beach school paddle, create sculptures, light fires, study crabs and other sealife, explore rock pools and forage for natural goodies.
Search for forest schools or beach schools in our directory and discover new ways for your children to connect with the great outdoors.