Are Forest School’s a Beneficial Addition to the Foundation Phase?
In the past decade there has been a growing interest in Forest schools within Britain. Originating in
Scandinavia, Forest Schools are closely associated with the Danish early years programme. Inspired by the ideas of Froebel, (who believe that doing was an essential part of education, with a strong emphasis on nature), nursery schools in Denmark have traditionally favoured play, movement and fresh air (Stigsgaard, 1978, cited in Williams-Siegfredson, 2005). The forest school concept was brought to Britain in 1995 when a group from Bridgewater College made a study tour to Denmark and experienced the benefits of forest ...view middle of the document...
Ritchie, 2009 stated that the government’s 2006 Learning outside of the classroom manifesto gave teachers more encouragement to get involved.
As Maynard & Waters (2007) note, the outdoor environment can provide children with numerous developmental and educational advantages. ‘Playing outside provides opportunities for children to use all their senses to experience wonder and enchantment... there should be a flow of play between inside and outside.’ (Itscotland, (N.D). Taylor et al, 1998 has found that children who play in natural environments undertake more diverse, creative and imaginative play.’ ‘The historical tradition of play as expounded by Froebel, MacMillan and Isaacs presents a strong case for the value of outdoor learning in early childhood settings.’ (As cited by Davis, Rea and Waite, 2006). In forest Schools children learn and develop through child initiated activities; this allows children to take ownership of their learning. Children play in the woodland environment looking closely at nature and climbing trees.
Psychological research has shown that student’s senses are stimulated by nature. The Steiner Waldorf approach places nature, rhythm of earth and life cycles at its core. Children play without adult interference and learn through their senses. (Oldfield, 2009, as cited in Knight, 2009)This is very close in ethos to forest schools with its emphasis on environment and natural tools and its child led approach. Like forest schools Steiner Waldorf’s approach to education is designed to support the spiritual and physical growth of the child. Children are encouraged to take risks outside in their play, just as they are in Forest School. There is no doubt that Steiner Waldorf and Forest schools are closely linked, the only difference is that Steiner Waldorf also includes domestic and indoor elements. His approach is also based on the philosophies of Froebel and Pestalozzi. Froebel pioneered play as learning and outdoor play as central to this. His development of the use of objects made from natural materials links to Montessori. Montessori also believed in using natural materials to enhance sensory experience for children. Montessori at first glance may not seem to link to Forest school but through her work she demonstrated the importance of repetition. She stated that children need to repeat tasks in order to learn the concepts embedded within them. In Forest schools children are given chance to repeat tasks as it is how the neural pathways in the brain are created and mylanised. (Knight, 2009)
The Reggio Emilia approach to education is another early year’s approach that links closely to Forest Schools. Like Forest schools, it values individuality and personal development and encourages creativity. The children initiate ideas with adults facilitating and encouraging children’s learning, just as with the Steiner Waldorf approach. However this approach is not about natural materials and outdoor environments, what links it to...