Researchers study impact of forest schools on early years education


So, a forest school is a form of outdoor
education where children are taken from their regular classroom, and they’re
embedded within a woodland environment surrounded by trees, where they partake
in a number of different activities in that environment. Our research was
initially aimed to see how young people learn in different environments (so those
aged four and five and eight to nine), how they learn in both the school and
classroom, but also how that compares to learning outdoors and especially when
that is child led, which is one of the things that forest schools aim to do. We’ve seen a great improvement in children’s confidence, in their resilience, when we first started taking children, some of them would cry. They wouldn’t necessarily want to be here. And as you can see now, that’s not really a
problem. we now have the opposite problem of trying to keep them dry, which isn’t actually too bad because we go straight back to nursery, have a hot chocolate, get them warmed up, so it’s okay. So, one of the things that we look at as part of
our sustainability action plan and our social responsibility action plan is how
we can make an impact in our community and by our community we don’t just
mean the stakeholders that we have on campus, we mean people outside of
Loughborough nationally and internationally, and so it’s really
important that we try and find projects that connect to our research on campus
or research elsewhere in our sector, and by doing that it means that we have a
really mixed and diverse population engaging with us, and hopefully makes our
campus more of a living laboratory. We’ve seen the beneficial impact it has on
children in terms of their appreciation for being outdoors in terms of their
experience of education more generally so they see it as a very positive thing
to do, embedded within their normal school life. I think the forest school
approach is a really good one. I think we’ve seen a really big benefit for our
children, and I think if it was rolled out across the country in both nurseries
and schools, the schools would see a big benefit for their children.

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