Forest School is an educational philosophy that stems from traditional indigenous ways of learning and being. It is founded on the belief that all children have a right to self-guided outdoor play – to muddy hands, to making forts, and to overcoming the inevitable bumps and bruises of time spent outside. Through this kind of regular, repeated outdoor play and healthy risk-taking, children build essential life skills: self-esteem, resiliency, and a sense of interdependence with each other and with the natural world.
In practice, Forest School has two defining characteristics. First, children and educators visit the same place in nature multiple times. Second, learning is recognized as a child-led emergent process — one that unfolds as children ask questions, make observations, experiment, and talk together. Educators support children’s learning by: providing a framework of social routines; modeling a reflective way of interacting with the world; and engaging children in their own risk management. Educators also help children discover and extend the edges of what they know, walking a fine balance between offering inspiring nudges and simply observing children’s curiosity without adulterating the experience.