We are beginning our 2nd year using a Forest School model in our K-2 classroom!
What is Forest School? Every Forest School or Forest Kindergarten will look slightly different, but they all have some things in common. Forest School means children spend significant and repeated amounts of time in a natural setting engaging in active free play and exploration. Learning experiences emerge from their discoveries and questions. Trained teachers come alongside children as facilitators, acting as “a guide on the side” rather than “a sage on the stage.”
Our class spends mornings mostly indoors in a regular classroom where we take care of subjects like math, reading, writing, and phonics. Sciences are included in the morning, but spring from outdoor discoveries as much as possible. Content learning show up in our reading and writing as well as some math here and there. Bible is sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors. We spend a significant part of every afternoon enjoying nature play in the forest, usually 1.5 to 2 hours.
For Seventh-Day Adventists, Ellen White’s advice on early childhood and the importance of nature in education is well known.
The Forest model is backed by research and has been shown to increase academic performance in later years as well as helping children develop skills that will remain with them long after they leave the forest. Here is a sampling of the benefits of Forest School: