Why is Forest School so important for our children?
Simon Barnes, journalist for The Times, sums it up well in his article of May 1st, entitled 'Why kids need lessons in the great outdoors'. He cites scary statistics such as "children watch 17 hours of television a week" and "27% of children aged 8 to 15 have never played outside by themselves", and more frightening still "35,000 children are on anti-depressants".
..and the answer? The wild world. "The wild world helps with all these problems. Children need to be wilder. " "We all seek it out for the good of our souls and our sanity; we do so instinctively. We take walks, we go fishing, feed the ducks...however, we are in danger of leaving behind a generation that has forgotten to do such things." ('Why kids need lessons in the great outdoors'. The Times, 1st May 2016)
In Forest School children have a chance to relearn these forgotten skills, a chance to hold a worm, build dens, get muddy, discover trees, make friends, take risks, fire their imagination, learn and have fun.
Research backs up the huge benefits of Forest School on children; studies of long-term Forest School programmes in the UK have established the positive impacts Forest School has on children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing. Children who attend regular Forest School sessions show improvement in key indicators on “self-efficacy, persistence, and problem solving skills…marked propensity to take risks, heightened levels of self-belief, positive attitude, independence and increased tendency of taking initiative”. Studies have also shown “…positive impacts on children’s physical and mental health in addition to improving their social and cognitive competence”. (S, Blackwell ‘Impacts of Long Term Forest School Programmes on Children’s Resilience, Confidence and Wellbeing)
Studies of Forest School in Sweden have shown that children are happier, have better social skills and co-ordination, and are more able to concentrate than their peers who are placed in city-based nurseries. In addition, they are also healthier and have 25% fewer sick days than city-based children.
So, it appears that Simon is right; children do need to be wilder and in his words "How very good, then, that a few people are trying to put that right."
'Why kids need lessons in the great outdoors'. The Times, 1st May 2016