“Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.” (Forest School Association, 2018). There are many important principles to forest schools and nature-based learning that I would include in my work with children. These principles include:
Principle 1: The most important thing about nature based learning is to provide children with lots of time to explore the outdoor natural environment everyday. Allowing children to play outdoors more frequently would benefit children more, than to only allow outdoor play a few times a week. Allowing children to spend time in nature can lead to some of the most enjoyable and profound learning experiences. In Forest Schools especially, it is important to have a structure, that is based on observations, and ensuring that this structure that you have going on, is showing progression of learning and growth for the children.
Principle 2: Another important principle to nature based learning, is providing the children with enough space for them to explore and discover the environment around them at all times. This is important to always keep in mind as an educator, so that children are also interested and engaged.
Principle 3: Child-centered learning is also something I would encourage in my experience with children in the future as an educators. Child centered learning is when children are the ones who are determining how the classroom is going to be set up, or what materials they want to engage with, and this is all based on the children’s interests. This is beneficial in outdoor nature based learning, when the children are exploring the outdoor environment around them, and they have questions about a particular thing they saw or experienced, and this leads to an inquiry based lesson that was planned based on the children’s interests.
Principle 4: Risky play is very beneficial to children’s learning. It allows for children to learn from the mistakes they make from playing and exploring outdoors, and the mistakes and failure that they experience, will lead to them having motivation in trying new things or new ways of doing things. Risky play is considered to be a natural part of children’s play, and children often seek out opportunities for engaging in challenging and so called risky play. (Outdoor Learning In The Early Years, 2018).
Principle 5: As a future educator, another principle that I will encourage and practice when during my experiences working with children will be to always ensure that I am providing them with enough materials to explore and play with, especially materials that are based on children’s interests. I will also encourage to the children to find loose parts during outdoor play that they can collect and use for indoor play. Loose parts are open ended materials that children can use in many different ways, and get creative with.