What Is Forest School?

If you want to try new types of education for your children, or perhaps you are curious about different modes of learning, then you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll be talking all about forest school, what it is, what the benefits are and why this kind of learning is crucial for your children. So, what is forest school?

What Is Forest School?

Well, it’s not all about singing around a campfire and chanting in the forest. This is actually a very beneficial form of education that can teach kids to be more independent, whilst also teaching them life skills and survival tactics in a safe, but natural environment. 

What Is Forest School?

Forest schools are a kind of outdoor learning environment that takes place in a woodland or forest. This kind of education is focused on learner led outdoor play and exploration to encourage curiosity and independence.

Forest school is very child-centered, as it allows them to become inspired, explore, play and try new things. It’s also considered a type of holistic learning, where physical, mental and social factors come into play. 

This kind of education can therefore encourage confidence, independence, and support risk taking in a hands-on way within a safe environment but natural setting.

With forest school, children and young adults are able to develop a meaningful connection with the world around them, and understand how they can fit in in this space.

Forest school helps kids develop themselves physically, intellectually, and socially with other children around them, and offers them the opportunity to build self confidence, resilience, confidence and creativity. 

What Is The Purpose Of Forest School?

The main purpose of forest school is to allow children some space and time to develop an interest in various activities, whilst also developing the skills to cope in a natural environment.

The setting of a forest is also very calming and relaxing, and kids are able to explore and understand new spaces with that feeling of freedom, as they are not stuck inside a classroom. 

The purpose of forest school is to give young learners the ability to explore and discover new things, whilst also allowing them to take risks and challenge themselves in a safe, controlled but natural environment. 

For the most part, forest school is designed to give children a chance to develop themselves naturally, through a healthy relationship with risk, problem solving and discovery.

Whilst risk can seem alarming for some parents, forest school is about being inquisitive, but also implementing risk assessments whilst under supervision instead of being averse to risk altogether. 

It can also help children learn and develop, whilst helping them build positive relationships with those around them and the natural world around them. 

Benefits Of Forest School

One of the main benefits of forest school is to learn through play and understand the world around them. Children will also develop healthy self regulation skills through trying new things and taking risks. 

In this sense, another benefit is that children begin to learn from their mistakes and failures in a healthy way. This can also help build confidence and resilience, which can give them the skills to deal with failure later on in life. 

It can also give children a sense of independence and achievement, as they are able to build things by themselves, navigate through the woods and understand different animals, plants and other aspects of their environment. 

Another main benefit of forest school is improved problem solving skills. Not only this, but it is a holistic approach that wholly helps children develop.

It can help emotional development, and emotional intelligence, whilst also helping children find a sense of belonging, and progress their spiritual development. 

In addition, consistent meetings and playtime with other children and adults can help children socially develop, whilst also assisting physical development along with fine motor skills, stamina and exercise.

With all of the communication that takes place to solve problems, children are also able to develop their language and communication skills within a forest school environment. 

Forest school also teaches children how to be safe around risks, rather than avoid them altogether. For instance, kids may be taught how to safely use knives as whittling tools for woodwork, or to use axes for chopping up wood for fires.

They may also be taught about the dangers of campfires, whilst also educating them about how to light a fire safely to stay warm or to cook food.

Finally, some of the most important and beneficial aspects of forest school are that strong, healthy relationships can be built with adults and peers, which is particularly important for children without great support systems, but forest school can also positively impact wellbeing and mental health. 

What Skills Can You Learn From Forest School?

What Skills Can You Learn From Forest School

Forest school is not about leaving children to run wild and free in the woodland. It can teach really valuable and important life skills and lessons.

By giving them a more open and exciting space to learn, forest school can actually encourage heightened attention and focusing skills, as children are more likely to focus on activities that are fun and exciting. 

Forest school can also improve communication skills and teamwork skills as children are encouraged to work together to reach a common goal.

They will need to communicate with teachers, leaders and other kids in order to learn about the environment around them, and navigate their way through the forest. 

Within a forest school, children are of course taught about nature, such as different animals, trees, plants and terrains around them to give them a wider understanding of the natural world.

One of the main elements of forest school is to allow children to be more independent, which teaches them to be more confident within themselves and reduce self-doubt in many situations. This is a skill that is applicable in many different aspects of life that they can utilize.

Another essential skill that is strengthened by forest school is creativity. Children are actively encouraged to come up with creative ideas and solutions to problems within the forest school.

For instance, during foraging or navigating, children are encouraged to discover and explore the environment, or use maps and tools to reach the goal set for them. 

Forest School Activities

Forest school can be incredibly fun and fulfilling for children of all ages. Not only does it give them a break outside of the school and classroom environment, but it is healthy for them to be outdoors, playing, exercising and learning simultaneously.

There are many different activities that children can participate in within a forest school. For instance, children can participate in sensory walks or hikes, or they can forage, explore and find things. 

It can also be fun to implement ‘hunts’ and encourage children to use their survival skills and problem solving skills to find certain treasure or items.

You can teach children to use maps or compasses in order to navigate their way to a certain place or point within the forest whilst supervised. 

Forest school can also involve fun games such as hide and seek or tag. Older children may enjoy trying out some woodwork with safe tools, and can try making their own art or sculptures out of wood, stones and branches that they find within the woods. 

You can also show children how to camp, with lessons on campfire cooking, starting bonfires, tying knots and ropes, building shelters and other survival lessons. It is educational and fun at the same time.

For smaller children, forest school could involve puddle, or mud jumping, exploring the forest, finding items and nature art.

You could show children various textures by giving them paper to take scrapings of the trees and branches that they come across. 

During forest school, children are taught how to assess risks for themselves, and come to the right conclusions using their problem solving skills. However, children are always supervised in all situations, particularly when using tools or for safety purposes. 


If you have ever wondered what is forest school, then we have hopefully answered your questions in this article.

In short, forest school is a type of education that takes place outdoors in a woodland or forested area. Forest school is largely a holistic approach to outdoor learning.

It offers children the opportunity to learn, socialize, play and understand the world around them, whilst making them feel empowered and independent. 

However, children are always supervised within a forest school, and often there are more adults than children there to help teach them essential skills to implement later on in life.

Activities may involve foraging, navigation, shelter building, woodworking and campfire building, whilst also allowing children to explore for themselves. 

The whole purpose of forest school is to help children be safe in outdoor environments, whilst teaching them about risks, problem solving and survival in the natural world.

Forest school can also be a means of encouraging responsibility for nature and the environment.

Joyce Bailey
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