What are the Benefits?
“Disconnecting from our habitual environment (the natural world) challenges our sense of identity and is a significant factor in problems including childhood depression, stress and antisocial behaviour. Children under 12 who have contact with (wild) nature gain a sense of freedom that creates a source of independence and inner strength that can be drawn upon for the rest of their lives. All children’s behaviour benefits significantly after playing in a natural environment and the symptoms of ADHD improve threefold."
Dr William Bird, founder of the Green Gym movement and advisor to the Department of Health
N.B. In my experience the same can be said for teenage children with educational and behavioural difficulties. The photographs below show young people (KS 3 & 4) with ADD, ODD, Anger Management and other issues. Would you give them an axe, knife or a saw? We did - not at first but after a while (and Risk Assessment) and the positive and responsible behaviours are evidenced for themselves:
Forest School allows children to grow and discover their abilities at their own pace, without fear of criticism or failure. Research shows that regular Forest School sessions:
Increase self-esteem and self-confidence;
Improve motivation and encourage concentration;
Improve language, communication and social skills;
Improve physical motor skills;
Increase understanding of the natural environment and of seasonal change;
Offer new perspectives for both practitioners and children;
Have a ripple effect upon wider school life, home routines and the local community *
(A Marvellous Opportunity for Children to Learn, O’Brien & Murray 2006.)
* As a result of his time at Forest School, the shy and quiet 15 year old lad in the photo started interacting with his younger, autistic, brother, whom he generally ignored, sharing with him what he had learned and changed the family dynamic within the household