How a Forest Schools Education Can Help Promote an All Round Healthy Lifestyle in Children

It is important to instil a good attitude towards exercise and healthy eating from a very early age in young children so that they grow up learning that eating healthy foods in good quantities is something that is to be encouraged. Often children can be brought up thinking that chocolate, fizzy drinks and sweets and such are ‘treats’ and are subsequently nicer or better for you than fruits and vegetables. It is not uncommon for a parent to take their children out to ice cream if they have done well on a test or have behaved well.

Eating well is not the only aspect of a healthy lifestyle, and encouraging children to maintain a healthy lifestyle all around is essential! As teachers we have a responsibility towards children to help them to learn and grow as individuals while at the same time providing them with the right morals and education that allows them to grow within our society. From a very young age children are incredibly receptive to our suggestions, which is why it is important to get them on the right track when they start education and this is partially what Forest Schools education is all about.

What are forest schools?

In a nutshell forest schools are small ‘nature’ schools built in woodland and forest areas and serve to create a safe environment in which children can learn while at the same time learning about their local surroundings. The forest school will normally consist of a central ‘sheltered’ area; which has been constructed by the children themselves and supervised by the official forest school teacher, as an initial cooperation task.

A forest school must provide a safe learning environment for children, along with warmth, comfort and food and drink available for participants. Although the aim of a forest school is to help children to develop nature and survival skills, they are supervised and kept safe at all times as learning is first and foremost on the forest school’s agenda.

What do they focus on?

Forest Schools focus on building knowledge of the world that surrounds us by incorporating everyday learning into team building and confidence building skills in a natural environment. Children will gain a deeper understanding of how the world around them works, giving them a more environmentally aware perspective with regard to our natural local ecosystems. Forest schools also actively encourage exploration, allowing children to find out more about the local wildlife of their own accord and how our contributions can help this wildlife to co-exist.

Physical activities and team building activities are encouraged such as navigation, scouting, identification of different wildlife species and shelter building. Forest School environments work on social skills and co-operation in order to provide a breath of fresh air when compared to the normal school classroom setting.

Incorporating Health and the Environment into Learning

By combining a fun activity with an important message in learning, Forest Schools are able to encourage children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. As they gain a deeper understanding of how the natural world around us works, they learn about the importance of physical activity and eating healthily and how they themselves can contribute to the natural balance of our world.

Since their introduction to our local schools, Forest Schools have already started to experience resounding success with children of all ages. The schools focus on a sense of well-being and improving self-belief, allowing them to further develop their confidence and help them to deal with significant life changes as it teaches them how to adapt in different situations. Because Forest Schools give children the opportunity to test their abilities in a real life situation, they can actively see the effects of a healthy lifestyle on their own person, giving them a more wider understanding of the benefits of staying healthy than simply learning about health in class.

Overall Forest Schools are a great asset to the education of today’s youth. The lessons provide a clean break up from normal classroom regime; it highlights the importance of the environment to the next generation and helps them to build essential life skills.

Mike James
Content Editor


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