AISHLING FOREST SCHOOL
Nature is the teacher.
Aishling Forest School’s mission is to create a quality forest school and enrichment program, where the magic of childhood runs free and nature is the greatest teacher to connect with yourself, each other, and Mama Earth.
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. Forest School is a specialized learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and their capacity to investigate test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children’s right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment;) the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
Quality Forest School programs utilize compassion-scaffolded programming, where leaders guide and mentor learners towards the continuation of being respectful, mindful, aware and empathetic towards all of nature’s living beings.
Forest School learners are encouraged to see, feel, taste, smell and hear nature. Outside the confines of four walls, without the distractions of electronic devices and excessive supervision, learners can move, explore and discover at their own pace, connecting to the natural world- a place not created by man, that had deep spiritual meaning for our ancestors.
Forest Schools are distinguished by their commitment to 100% outdoor time and complete nature immersion, unstructured flow learning, child inspired emergent curriculum, place-based focus, inquiry-based teaching style and authentic play. Nature immersion is defined as “Unstructured free time in nature resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world.”
This approach draws on, in addition to the Scandinavian outdoor model of friluftsliv (“free open-air life,”) the learning theories and playful child-centered pedagogy of thinkers such as Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori and on the nature-based education activities of Kurt Han and the British Scouting and Woodcraft Folk movements, among other influences. Forest Schools have existed since the 1950’s in Scandinavian and other European countries and have proven to provide many, many benefits to all who participate.
Why is it needed?
Who do you think gets to spend more time outside? Free-range chickens, prisoners or kids?
The answer is free range chickens get to spend the most time outside, followed by prisoners who are mandated to have 2 hours a day of outdoor time. The sad truth is that most kids these days get less than 1 hour outside and the side effects are pretty scary- including ADHD, social anxiety, depression and even suicide in today’s youth, according to Gever Tulley the founder of the Brightworks School and Tinkering School. Not to mention that the lack of outdoor time for kids leads to a substantial decrease in confidence, creativity, problem solving skills, independence and grit- all skills needed to succeed as adults.
Many of us experience and recognize the calming effects of nature. Biologist, Edward Olson may have explained it best in his biophilia theory— that humans are innately drawn to connect and commune with nature. Just being in a natural environment makes us feel centered, at ease and at home. Studies also show that being in nature, or even viewing nature scenes, can reduce negative emotions like anger and fear while increasing positive feelings.
Natural environments not only soothe and center, they stimulate. Sensory engagement could not be more critical to early learning—the more kids engage their senses, the more they increase their capacity to take in and turn new information into knowledge.
Benefits of Forest School
Forest School is suited to all ages and abilities. The aim of Forest school is to develop the learner holistically and at their own pace. The benefits of this holistic, learner-led approach can be transferred to the classroom where learners are found to be more motivated and able to concentrate more effectively.
Learners are more physically active
During forest school sessions, both boys and girls are significantly more physically active than they are at regular school, and their activity is both more intense and more prolonged. Physical activity from outdoor play can in turn contribute to healthier lifestylesand better motor skills.
They play more imaginatively
Nature is the perfect setting for dramatic play and abounds with open-ended play materials like pine cones, rocks, sticks, logs, sand and leaves that encourage children’s imaginations to run wild. These creative skills are essential for problem-solving and succeeding at school and life later. Also, natural spaces are not gender coded, which encourages boys and girls to play together and helps promote gender equity.
They don’t fidget
At forest school, active children are easily able to burn off excess energy, which can be particularly beneficial to children with ADHD. Researchers have also found that nature has a soothing, restorative effect that makes it easier for children to focus in a natural area or after spending time in one. And the more natural the area, the stronger the effect.
They become better at judging risk
Children who are allowed to take risks in nature, for example by climbing trees, using tools and being near fire, naturally learn how to manage those risks. Risky play is also believed to nurture adventurousness and cultivate resilience and self-reliance, both traits that can help children overcome challenges.
They develop a desire to protect nature
Children who spend time in nature have a better understanding of how it works and become emotionally attached to it. Several researchers have showed that this makes them more likely to want to protect nature later in life.
ENROLL YOUR LITTLE ONE TODAY.
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