We will show that playing and exploring outside or in a forest school environment has many benefits to a child's learning skills and development. Forest school in particular helps to build children's confidence and self-esteem and encourages independence, under the watchful eye of a capable practitioner, more about the practitioners role can be found under the section ‘skills a practitioner needs’ of this blog.
Children's self-esteem is vital to their development and learning as children with low self-esteem do not tend to learn as well as children with a high self-esteem.
“Children with low self-esteem find learning difficult.”
(Constable, 2012:9 )
This may be due to a child's own self-belief that they cannot achieve. Whereas it was found that,
“Children with higher self-esteem are certainly better learners, more willing to learn, explore and try out without the fear of failure.”
Children self-esteem is made up from how they view themselves, their communication, social skills and their resilience. Forest schools helps to empower children to follow their own interests. It was introduced in the UK as a way to help children build on their self-esteem as tells us
“Forest schools in the UK began in order to help children overcome low self-esteem and to improve their self-confidence.”
It provides a natural environment for children to use in order to grow and develop their skills and interests.
“Outdoor learning gives children opportunity to make connections in their own learning.”
This helps children to build their confidence and self-esteem as they improve on the skills they have already acquired and achieve challenges they set themselves.
Forest school is an ideal place for children who may have difficulties with their learning and development as Constable (2012) agrees, the forest school environment is less threatening than a classroom as it had no right or wrong way of exploring, so children feel less pressured and are more relaxed in their learning.
“This style of educating and learning outdoors is extremely beneficial to young children and their self-esteem”
Constable goes on to state that children’s emotions can also affect the way they learn,
“It is essential to remember that children experience all the same internal feelings as adults”
Adults support children to help them make connections and be able to express and understand these feelings, forest school gives children a different environment in which to express themselves.
This approach fits with Seiner’s belief as stated by Constable (2012).
“Children should be able to play without adult interference. The adult’s role, he felt, was to guide and support, not to lead and teach.”
According to Steiner as stated above children should be able to free flow in their play without adults stopping them in order to focus on the activity in place.
Most practitioners and educators understand the need for good personal, social and emotional development to ensure children feel secure enough to learn.
“It is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seed must grow.”
Carson is saying that children’s personal, social and emotional (PSE) skills must be developed, without good PSE development children may struggle in other areas of their learning.
The outdoors is dynamic and unpredictable providing children with opportunities to experience and develop emotions, giving them opportunities to work through these.
The outdoors can be a deeply engaging place for young children that is different from the indoors therefore children may react in a different way outside to inside.
“Children at ages of 4 and 5 years should not be imprisoned in a dirty airless schoolroom, at such a young age they should have play and movement, especially in the fresh air.”
Stigsgaard agrees that children gain more benefits from being outside rather than in an indoor environment. In the outdoor environment children are able to move around more freely, make more noise and experience things on a bigger scale.