What is Forest School?
Forest School is a pedagogical approach which promotes regular and repeated access to natural spaces. Children are provided with an opportunity to build an on-going relationship with the land, educators, peers and themselves through their experiences at Forest School. While outdoors, students are invited to play. At first, this play may seem chaotic, but given time and space, students begin to engage in intrinsically motivated play and discovery. This child-directed activity is an example of learning-based play. At the end of each session, students are invited to reflect on their play and share their “Story of the Day”. They may even plan what they are going to do during future sessions. At Forest School, the curriculum is emergent, flowing from what interests students. The challenge for educators is to observe student play and take note of their reflections. This information serves as a jumping off point for lesson plans back at school and for future sessions at Forest School, linking student play to the Ontario Curriculum.
We Danced the Forest, En français!
For the past 3 years, we have been taking our Early French Immersion students outside and into nature at least one a week for an entire school day. During the 2015-2016 school year, we attended the Ottawa Forest and Nature School each and every Tuesday, rain or shine, even in -20c weather. This initiative was a pilot project with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and part of a collaborative research project with the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Education studying the impact of nature-based learning on student achievement and well-being. We are continuing to participate in this research project during the 2016-2017 school year as we embark on our own Forest School journey, visiting nearby nature each Wednesday.
Ottawa Citizen Article:
Click on link below for more information about Forest Schools:
In Canada: http://childnature.ca/forest-school-canada/
In the UK: http://www.forestschoolassociation.org