What Is Forest School?
THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME.
With increasingly limited opportunities for physical activity and fresh air in the school system, Forest School is an opportunity to foster in children not only a love of the outdoors, but also a sense of belonging within it.
Based on the Scandinavian learning theories from the 1950's, Forest School has now become embedded in the educational philosophy of many European countries such a Norway, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. With over ten thousand programs in the UK alone, Forest School can take many different forms and is known by many different names : Nature School, Forest Kindergarten, Outdoor School and Waldkindergarten, to name a few.
Where do they learn?
In the woods, in open fields, in the streams and up in the trees.
Wherever their curiosity leads them.
Forest School can take place in many different settings: urban parks, natural spaces on school grounds, natural playgrounds, outdoor classrooms, forest, meadows, beaches and with all ranges of age groups.
How does Forest School work?
While field trips into the forest can be educational for children, such outings only offer a glimpse into the workings of the natural world. When these outings become the exception rather than the rule, children are taught to be visitors in nature. Like a group touring a museum, they may take in the sights, but they ultimately leave with the feeling that they don’t belong.
Tír na nÓg Forest School is a holistic and immersive program where children - beginning at 2 years old- can develop a sense of self and sense of place. Forest school offers an immersive experience that encourages hands-on learning. It’s an experience that involves being in nature over an extended period of time: children come to know a woodland as it changes with the seasons. As children watch the cycles of life unfold, their relationship with the forest strengthens over time.
Habitual contact with nature gives children a lasting sense of belonging within the natural world, one that they can carry with them through the rest of their lives.
Why the Woods?
By situating its learning communities within local natural environments, forest school teaches children that green spaces should be the norm, not the exception.
Spending their days in the woods gives children the chance to learn through exploring at their own pace. By witnessing the changes that take place in a natural environment over time, they also experience the seasons in a way that’s far more difficult to do within an urban environment.
What do children learn?
How Do They Learn?
Educators do a Site Risk Assessment (SRA) at the beginning of every day. SRA’s are performed intermittently throughout the year, and more frequently if the weather changes.
We also stick together as a group, we maintain clear boundaries, and both children and educators wear high visibility clothing to keep each other in sight. Learn more →
Nothing happens in isolation at forest school. Children, in fact, develop multiple facets of themselves at once: they develop mentally and physically; they build spatial and emotional intelligence; they develop their fine motor skills and imaginations alike; and they learn compassion and empathy both for each other and for their surroundings. Learn more →
Students at forest school learn by doing. The learning is self-paced and largely self-directed. Because children are encouraged to pursue their own interests, the learning that takes place is more impactful.