International Perspectives.

(Schola Foris, 2015)

Forest Schools have, and continue to play a big role in children’s learning and they have developed in countries other than the UK. For example many Scandinavian countries especially Norway, Sweden and Denmark have and encourage Forest School learning and it has been there where other countries including the UK have taken inspiration in order to build and adapt Forest schools.

In Scandinavia they take children outside for long periods of time or even the whole day something which is uncommon here in the UK. In Swedish Forest Schools children have an indoor area but only use it if the “temperature falls below -10oC” and they “spend up to three hours inside” before they go back outside though “80% of the time is spent outdoors” (Robertson, 2008, p. 9). Moreover there are other outdoor environments apart from the forest which children use including open hill, meadows, ponds and orchards (Robertson, 2008, p. 9). One reason for this difference is the cultures and values which different countries place on being in the outdoors. For example the Reggio Emilia approach puts an emphasis on the environment and it is often referred to as the third teacher (Gray and Macblain, 2014). In addition in Steiner schools “outdoor learning is one of their fundamental principles and education tools” (Gillman, 2014, p. 26). In the outdoor space there were different areas and space for children to use such as “a digging area, vegetable beds, a fire pit and composting area” as well as “a covered area so that children could escape from the elements” (Constable, 2012, p. 4). Therefore internationally Forest Schools will differ from country to country though it can be seen how important this experience is for children.

In Germany there is a “great increase in wood-pedagogical approaches and their implementation in many child day-care facilities” (Knight, 2013, p. 31). It has been noted how spending time outdoors in the woods provides children with endless learning opportunities and allows them to developing their understanding of the world by experiencing it in a new and different way (Knight, 2013). As it is being recognised how spending time away from the secure places which are familiar and comfortable whether that is a home or a nursery environment to go and explore the sounds, textures and smells in the woods. In Germany these projects are used by pre-schools and they can capture children’s imagination but more can be done to incorporate school children to spend time away from their classroom to explore their outdoor environment.
(Jarvie, 2013)
As discussed by Knight (2013) in America there has been a reduction in adolescents taking part in activities such as camping and hiking. Previously children would experience and spend time outside during the break times at school but unfortunately these have been cut and consequently children spend far less time outside. This is very different to what is happening in Europe where children are given the opportunity to spend more time outdoors as a result of Forest Schools being introduced. “Take a child outside week” was created in America in 2006 and it encourages parents and practitioners to take children outside to explore natural surroundings (Lindenfeld Hall, 2015). This indicates that though children do not have many opportunities to go outside at least it has been recognised and people are trying to motivate people to go outdoors.

To conclude Scandinavia is one of the front runners in Forest Schools as they lead the way and often inspire people to start up Forest School in their own country. Different countries are at different stages in creating, developing and providing Forest Schools for example, in Sweden they are well established where as Germany see the benefits of being outside and are introducing outdoor play in the woods. It is interesting to see that not everyone put the same emphasis on being outside as there are still countries like America who put more resources and effort into the academic progress that children make.

Though, should practitioners worry about making sure children are achieving well in Early Years or at school or should children be allowed to explore their natural environment?
Author Laura

1 comment:

  1. You noticed correctly that America put more resources and effort into the academic progress that children make. However, they still need to be more time playing outside. It's good for both physical and mental health. Click on to check it out!


We welcome any comments or questions....