So today is the day that I need to complete my ‘research review’ – analyse current research on Forest School and its impact.
Obviously, having read 2 paragraphs I’m already sidetracked by “how cool is that?” and “excellent quote!”
So this post is, quite literally, a bunch of copied and pasted quotes that I’ve found interesting and would like to return to at some point. And I thought you might find them interesting too. Links to articles appear underneath each quote. Read, ponder, enjoy, then get outdoors.
“Research in America (Taylor et al., 1998; Fjortoft, 2004) has found that children who play in natural environments undertake more diverse, creative and imaginative play, forming an important part of a child’s development.”
“Impact of Forest School engagement:
Six themes underlying the propositions of change
1. Confidence Characterised by the self-confidence and self-belief that comes from children having the freedom and the time and space to learn, grow and demonstrate their independence.
2. Social skills Characterised by an increased awareness of the consequences of actions on other people (peers and adults). The acquired ability to undertake activities with others, either by sharing tools and tasks or taking part in co-operative play.
3. Language and communication Characterised by the development of more sophisticated uses of both written and spoken language (vocabulary and syntax) that is prompted by a child’s visual and other sensory experiences. These experiences can also stimulate and inspire conversation among children who are otherwise reluctant to engage in dialogue with peers and adults.
4. Motivation and concentration Characterised by keenness to participate in exploratory, learning and play activities; also an ability to focus on specific tasks and to concentrate for extended periods of time. In conversation at school or at home, children display a positive attitude to Forest School in particular, and to learning in general.
5. Physical skills Characterised by the development of physical stamina and gross motor skills – the physical skills and coordination allowing the free and easy movement around the Forest School site. As well as the development of fine motor skills, this includes the effective use of tools and the ability to make structures and objects, e.g. shelters, dens or creative art projects.
6. Knowledge and understanding Characterised by a respect for the environment and an interest in the natural surroundings: making observations and insights into natural phenomena such as seasonal change, and the ability to identify different species of flora and fauna. This can be reflected in improved academic attainment.
Two themes on the wider impacts of Forest School
1. New perspectives Forest School can give teachers and practitioners a new perspective and understanding of the child as they observe them in a different setting. A different relationship can develop between children and teachers as the former see the latter in a different setting, and see them coping with some of the same challenges as they face themselves. The Forest School setting also provides an evaluative space to identify the individual learning styles of each child.
2. Ripple effects beyond Forest School As a result of taking an active part in Forest School, teachers gain the opportunity to inform their own practice, and adapt their approaches to outdoor learning. Owing to children’s enthusiasm for Forest School, they bring the experience ‘home’. This can result in changes to out-of-school routines and behaviour, with parents taking their children outdoors more. Parental interest in and attitude to Forest School can change over time; parents have the opportunity to develop a different attitude to the outdoors, including altered perceptions of risks.”