Schools are taking learning outdoors with Nature Play providing training for educators to understand how to facilitate learning outside of the four walls of a classroom.

So what is a forest school? It is a fun, hands on way of learning for kids in childcare and primary school.

The forest school concept allows educators to enhance children’s physical and emotional development while incorporating the curriculum into their teaching in a non-traditional setting.

Primary Forest School 5Nature Play education and community engagement coordinator Anya Perkins says all subject areas can be taken outdoors to enhance curriculum learning.

“Ideally a forest school session should run for two hours a week and link to the curriculum,” Anya says. “Teachers need to look creatively at the curriculum subjects to create a healthy balance of learning in and out of the classroom, ensuring forest schools link to classroom learning.”

Ensuring a strong curriculum link, forest school sessions can help students by offering meaningful, multi-sensory and kinesthetic learning experiences.

The focus on emotional development also ensures kids have a chance to increase their self-esteem and confidence in the learning environment. In fact, Anya says introverted or shy kids who may not normally participate in fear of failing become more involved in a forest school session.

Primary Forest School 4“Children who say ‘I can’t’ tend to get a lot out of the forest school program because there’s less pressure about making mistakes,” Anya says. “This kinesthetic style of learning is also more accessible for most children.”

The benefits of incorporating a forest school program in the primary school learning environment are pretty clear. It doesn’t have to stop there. Secondary school teachers can just as effectively incorporate outdoor learning into their teaching as well!

You can learn more about forest schools and other outdoor education activities at the Nature Play Symposium, which will run on Saturday March 11 at the Gold Coast Recreation Centre. Tickets are available online for $264 at www.natureplayqld.org.au.

All this talk of learning outside makes us want to step outside for a forest office. I wonder if we can organise a mobile power supply…



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