6 Great Benefits Of Forest School

Forest School is a fun and engaging approach to outdoor learning that gets children away from the classroom and into the natural world. It has become increasingly popular in recent years for many reasons, not least how much children enjoy their forest school activities and connecting with nature. At Sidcot School, we adopt the principles of forest school and deliver invigorating and immersive learning to our Junior School children. Find out why, at Sidcot, we believe in forest school learning and the 6 biggest benefits for children.

What Is Forest School?

Forest School originated in Scandinavia and came to the UK in 1993 via the Forest School Association. Forest schools allow children to learn and play in nature, which fosters a sense of connection to the environment and promotes holistic development. Forest school activities are about much more than simple outdoor learning. While it does take place in the outdoors, preferably in a wooded area, the ethos behind forest school is about nurturing young learners and helping them to develop their sense of self, gain confidence, and explore their creativity and independence. 

Forest school involves regular sessions delivered over a sustained period. It is not a one-off outdoor learning day or a single afternoon spent outside. Forest schools approach learning with an emphasis on the individual child, letting students explore at their own pace, take their own considered risks and learn by doing. 

At Sidcot School, we want all of our children to live adventurously. Forest school aligns perfectly with this, encouraging children to live life to the full and be curious about anything and everything.  

Forest School Activities

bug hotel which is one of the forest school activities

Outdoor learning in any form has limitless activities to enjoy. It just takes a little imagination. Forest schools make the most of the natural world, and you can expect children to participate in the following activities, plus many more: 

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Bug hotels 
  • Den making
  • Whittling
  • Bug hunting
  • Identifying trees and plants
  • Bird spotting
  • Bridge building
  • Toasting marshmallows 

While these activities may seem like an extension of ‘playtime’, all activities that are arranged as part of forest school are carefully considered for their range of learning benefits.

Benefits Of Forest School

From gaining learning skills in a fun and interactive way, to forming relationships and connecting with the wider world, there are many wonderful benefits of forest school, including:

1. Physical Health

Forest school activities are excellent ways to get children moving and developing their physical abilities. Climbing trees, running, and balancing on logs contribute to physical strength, coordination, and agility. This also promotes a healthy active lifestyle and teaches children functional movements that they will be able to transfer to sporting activities and daily life. 

2. Improved Cognition

Studies have shown that time spent in nature can improve focus and attention. This can then also be transferred to a classroom environment, helping children to immerse themselves in their academic pursuits, as well as their outdoor learning activities. Many outdoor learning activities also incorporate various subjects, such as science, maths, and art, helping children to expand their knowledge in an organic and fun way. 

At Sidcot, we encourage children to surprise themselves and relish challenges. The unstructured environment of forest schools contributes to this, as it encourages children to use their imagination and creativity in play. Through this, they can develop innovative problem-solving skills and start to see scenarios in different ways, which they will apply to all aspects of life.

3. Emotional Health

Forest schools and outdoor learning in the early years have a positive effect on young people’s emotional wellbeing in a number of ways. Forest schools encourage children to take manageable risks in a supportive environment, so they build confidence and resilience, thereby increasing their self-esteem. Additionally, the freedom and space children enjoy at forest school allows them to express their emotions freely and learn to manage them effectively.

4. Connection To The Natural World

Being surrounded by nature helps children to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the environment. This can lead to more environmentally conscious behaviours and attitudes in adulthood, inspiring students to go on and make a difference to the world around them. Exploring the natural world also promotes a sense of wonder and curiosity in children, encouraging a lifelong love of learning and a passion for discovery. Furthermore, spending time among the calm and tranquil environment of a forest can be soothing and relaxing for children, and therefore supports their overall wellbeing.

5. Socialisation

Forest school activities often require lots of teamwork and cooperation. Children learn to communicate effectively, share resources, and work together to solve problems. This collaboration helps children form stronger bonds with their friends and develop meaningful connections. This is especially important for our Junior School children at Sidcot, who will gain most of their social connections at School; through forest school we can promote healthy relationships that they can continue throughout their school careers.

6. Skills For Life 

Everything that children learn during their time in forest school can have a direct impact on other areas of their life. As well as learning practical skills that will be beneficial in the future, the range of cognitive, emotional and social benefits learnt through forest school will influence children without them even realising. Forest school learning is child-centred, and through this, children learn that they can manage and control their learning environment, motivating them to be independent thinkers. By facing and overcoming challenges in a natural setting, children will also naturally learn to adapt to changing circumstances, which is an incredibly valuable life skill. 

children enjoying forest learning

Outdoor Learning and Forest School At Sidcot

Forest school is an exciting and essential part of a holistic education. At Sidcot School, we want all of our students to be well-rounded individuals who enjoy everything life has to offer. We also want them to be themselves and discover their way through the world on their own terms. The skills developed at forest school contribute to this ethos, which is why our children take part in regular forest school sessions throughout their time with us. We also have a packed sports calendar, Programme of Activities for Sidcot Students, and an equestrian centre to make sure children have a range of outdoor activities to enjoy and explore. 

To find out more about our forest school programme or any of our other activities, please request a prospectus or, better yet, visit one of our open days or book a tour to visit our 150 acre countryside campus.