So what is a forest school?
Forest schools is an outdoor education style in which students are encouraged to play, explore and develop confidence and self-esteem. I love the idea of supported risk-taking, where a child is “encouraged” to learn and take some risks and learn by trying. It also is a method that uses the child’s interests to educate and that is key.
I can say that our son loved it, and in just one morning he became more independent and self-confident in nature, touching and making questions about what he was seeing.
What do you learn in a forest school?
We only went for one day so I’m no expert, but I can safely say that in a short time he definitely became more confident in a forest environment and also in his ability to judge and face a challenging situation by himself. Being around other kids that felt more comfortable and were more used to the forest also helped him relax and go beyond what he would normally do.
What happens in a forest school?
In our case, we started with a song to get to know everyone, made a short hike while playing games, visited some animals, made some crafts in a tent, played in a small stream to pick up water and socialized a little before heading back. Uff, it was quite a busy morning, but that doesn’t really describe it, our son for example, really enjoyed learning about a plant that you can use to replace straws and is now always looking for them.
Adapting to ‘normal’ school routines and processes after a forest school?
This seems to be a common issue for some parents. We do notice that taking our son to experience different and exciting activities he sometimes doesn’t want to go back to “normal”. This is ok and to be expected and we give it the same importance as he not wanting to go to bed, take a shower or turn of the tv.
What is the best age to go to a forest school activity?
There is no minimum age, if the activity and the school allow, take them, it will be fun I guarantee, and the sooner they start the better.
Where did we go?
We went to a morning activity in a Sintra, Portugal by Movimento bloom. They offer both school programs and activities and they were super nice and friendly. Unfortunately for our son, we live pretty far from Sintra and in our region, there is nothing like this so we can only go to weekend activities when they are available.
Are there other forest schools in Portugal?
It’s really becoming more and more avaiable but for now that I know of there are schools, in Lisbon – Caminhos da Floresta, in Ovar Tribo Terra , in Vila nova de Gaia- Play – Brincar para Crescer and in Mafra – Academia da Alegria. We really hope more start to appear in other regions.