Benefits of Nature-Based Education

Forest School and nature-based crafts and activities promote child-based learning through exploration and discovery in a natural environment. This encourages children to become connected, engaged in and have responsibility for their learning. It is an environment that allows creativity, which in turn provides opportunities to feel comfortable asking questions and to build on confidence when approaching new tasks.

Making fires, cooking outdoors, building shelters, working with real tools and many more nature craft activities all provide children with a chance to assert personal control and to learn to problem solve creatively (click here for the benefits of Forest School activities).

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Forest school and nature-based education can help to develop respect for one's self, those within their group (including their peers) and the natural environment that surrounds the child.

Nature-based education facilitates a child's holistic development. The activities we provide engage all aspects of the individual – mind, body and spirit.

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Different Learning Styles

Earth Kids believe that regular outdoor nature education and Forest School can enhance and support learning in the classroom. If a child finds learning in a classroom environment difficult, nature-based education can be powerfully beneficial. Whilst those that respond well to the classroom environment can further more extend their learning capabilities.

Through planning, observation, adaptation and reflection , we are able to engage with the different learning styles of the children. This is based on the VAK learning styles model that suggests that most people can be divided into one of three preferred styles of learning:

  • Visual: people who will work from lists, written directions and instructions. including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays and hand-outs etc. They will be best able to perform a new task when reading or watching someone else do it first.
  • Auditory: has a preference for the transfer of information through listening. They will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions.
  • Kinaesthetic: has a preference to physical experience-touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences. They will be best able to perform a new task by getting on and trying it out for themselves.
Many people will have a blend of all three learning styles and some people have a very strong preference. During Earth Kids sessions our programmes/activities can be beneficial for all individual learning styles.

The Importance Of Reflection Time

In addition to the individual learning from their own experience, focused group reflection time allows a chance for each child to reflect on and talk about their own experience through feedback. This hopefully then improves the child's understanding and facilitates the application of their newly learned skills to new situations.

'The capacity to reflect on an action/experience so to engage in a process of continuous learning... this may be the most important source of personal developmental improvement.' (David A.Kolb, who popularized the ideas of 'Experiential Learning Theory' and 'Reflective Learning Theory', drawing heavily on the work of John Dewey- pioneer of progressive education (for more on this see below)).

Much of our reflective time will be towards the end of each session, during our circle group time, and can also be used to extend learning within the classroom.

Other Benefits, when applying experiential and reflective learning theories to Forest school and nature-based education, can include:

  • Encouragement of self motivation
  • Increased self confidence
  • Awareness of personal strengths and areas for improvement
  • More understanding of own beliefs and values
  • Engage imaginative thinking
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Increased learning from an experience
  • Can act as an effective source of feedback

Progressive Education

We are influenced as teachers and parents by many ideas of progressive education.

Progressive education is a pedagogical movement that began in the late nineteenth century and has continued in various forms to the present. It finds its roots in present experience. Most progressive education programmes have these qualities in common:

  • Emphasis on learning by doing (hands-on projects, experiential learning)
  • Strong emphasis on problem solving and critical thinking
  • Group work and development of social skills
  • Understanding and action as the goals of learning (as opposed to rote knowledge)
  • Collaborative and cooperative learning projects
  • Education for social responsibility
  • Highly personalized education accounting for each individual's personal goals
  • Integration of community service and service learning projects into the daily curriculum
  • De-emphasis on textbooks in favour of varied learning resources
  • Emphasis on lifelong learning and social skills
  • Assessment by evaluation of child’s projects and productions

(Reference with Additional Reading on Progressive Education via wikipedia )