What Is Nature School?

Nature Schools, more commonly known as Forest Schools are nature-based communities in which educators foster learner-led inquiry and discovery, fostering memorable experiences for good long-term benefits.

What is Nature School

What Is Nature School?

The core of their practice is well-being, and by identifying the social, mental, and physical requirements of children, they provide direction and support for time spent in nature.

They acknowledge possibilities to coach holistic development over the course of long-term courses by developing learner-inspired activities centered on exploring the natural world.

The process aids and supports more than just intellectual growth; it aids and promotes learners’ interpersonal, psychological, spiritual, physical, and intellectual development.

It fosters a safe, non-judgmental environment in which learners can experiment and take chances. Forest School fosters a deep and profound connection to the planet as well as a knowledge of one’s place within it. 

Their attitude to risk ensures that students are continuously expanding their abilities by tackling real-world problems and developing self-belief and resilience.

They believe that risk is more than just the possibility of physical harm; they understand that there are dangers in everything that we do and that we improve by conquering them.

As a result, Forest School assists students in becoming healthy, strong, creative, and self-sufficient learners.

Basic Principles Of Nature School

  1. Lessons can be taught in any outdoor space, even if you live in an urban area. Small green spaces can be made into a nature school as well as woodlands, forests, mountains, and shorelines.
  1. Weather isn’t an issue at Nature School. In fact, most nature schools believe in the mantra that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. This inspires children to be resilient and adopt a positive attitude, regardless of external circumstances.
  1. Children are treated with respect and are taught to respect each other in return. Mentors approach them with compassion and view them as competent and capable learners.
  1. They place a high value on playtime. Children at nature schools are encouraged to be curious, explore and ask questions freely without a rigid learning structure.
  1. Risky play is viewed as an essential element of children’s learning and overall wellness and is encouraged by experienced, trained teachers who assist children and youth in risk management.

What Are The Advantages Of Nature Schools?

  • Childhood development advantages: Nature schools have been found to help students develop holistically, particularly through social education. Children that attend nature school become ever more adaptable, peaceful and excited about learning, and their coordination and fine motor abilities improve.
  • Natural education: Your child will form a link with nature and gain a better awareness of their surroundings.
  • Equips them with key skills: Nature school is not like regular preschool, and you may be concerned about a lack of emphasis on traditional academic learning. Children who attend nature school, on the other hand, are equally as, if not more, equipped for kindergarten than their peers. Outdoor education helps children develop physical skills, emotional development including teamwork and compassion, and curiosity, all of which help them prepare for school.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Nature Schools?

What Are The Disadvantages Of Nature Schools
  • Few and far between – Nature schools are difficult to identify and vet, despite the fact that they have been around for generations in Europe. However, due to rising demand, they are springing up in urban areas across the United States. It can be difficult to find the ideal one.
  • Safety – You may be concerned about your child’s safety at nature school, where they may face dangers such as discovering how to act in a fire ring, climbing trees, and using certain equipment. Teaching young children to cope with danger, on the other hand, enables them to make wiser judgments throughout their lives. 

It is correct that if you do not have qualified mentors, your child’s safety in these circumstances is a legitimate issue. You’ll want to make absolutely sure you trust the teachers and are at ease with the program they’re running. Typically, nature schools will allow parents to spend a day at the school to get a feel for what it’s like.

  • Commute – Depending on the region of the program, you could have a lengthy commute to pick up and drop off your kid, and sites may change from time to time, making this a bigger issue.

If you are concerned about your child’s participation in programs, contact the Nature School supervisor to learn more about their expertise and risk management processes. 

Make sure you know when your kid will be visiting Nature School so they can be correctly equipped, which often includes wellington boots, a weatherproof jacket and pants, long-sleeved shirts, and full-length slacks to shield their arms and legs.

Cold weather hats and gloves, and summer sun hats and sunscreen. Bring old clothes and assure your kid that it is acceptable for them to get messy at Nature School.

What Kind Of Activities Happen At Nature Schools?

Since activities at nature schools are child-led, there is no predetermined curriculum — one party may devote six weeks searching for bugs and learning about insect classification, while another party may not be interested in this but would like to construct a weatherproof shelter made entirely of natural materials.

It is the responsibility of the organizers to monitor their groups in order to find hobbies and encourage their learning.

Some popular Nature School activities include:

  • Hiking and group nature walks
  • Orienteering and navigation
  • Campfire building and fire safety learning
  • Natural shelter and tent building
  • Learning how to use tools in a natural environment
  • Searching for bugs and learning how to identify them
  • Yoga and mindful stretching
  • Splashing in muddy puddles
  • Natural arts and crafts such as painting leaves and pebbles
  • Making things from natural materials such as mandalas made from sticks
  • Making mud pies
  • Learning and asking questions about natural science
  • Free time to explore natural environments
  • Team-building games
  • Learning how to tie different types of knots
  • Foraging

Final Thoughts

After researching nature schools extensively, we’re almost ready to enroll ourselves! It appears to be a very natural way of learning, and we love the focus on taking risks and developing resilience.

What are your thoughts – is this the type of early education you envision your child excelling in, or do you believe they would benefit more from a more traditional program?

Joyce Bailey
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