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4 Benefits to a Forest School Approach in Early Years

Kids love being outside. The outdoors is their natural playground. It enables them to explore themselves, their friendships and the world around them.

More and more early years providers are adding elements of a Forest School approach to their structure. It is a great way of gently introducing them to the wonders of the natural world - and a respite from long days inside a nursery or pre-school. Insects, mud, trees, flowers, colours, walking and fire are the order of the day here. You name it, they will love it. 

So, what are some of the benefits of this approach?

 

Fresh air

Granted, pure fresh air is hard to come by in major towns and cities, but this doesn’t stop toddlers and children being able to experience the sense of breathing fresh, cold air during a cold winter’s day. Compared to previous generations, children are spending longer, and longer periods of time cooped up inside – especially during the winter months -- where their body becomes accustomed to central heating. Allowing their body to experience different temperatures at different times of year whilst out breathing fresh air could help fend of viruses. 

 

Connecting with nature

it is well known that being outside in natural surroundings can bring us fantastic physical and mental benefits as human beings. This still runs true with children in early years. Some may not have experienced many opportunities with nature, so exposing them to it from an early age may persuade them to seek it out throughout their life as a child and later as an adult. Simply allowing them to be present in an outdoor environment will increase their concentration, focus and the beginning stages of being able to appreciate the world in which they live. 

 

Developing their senses

Being outside utilises our human senses. Even more so than for little children. They are learning how their senses operate and what they mean for them as people. When they are young, senses can be very sensitive, so what better way to explore them than being outside? Being able to touch and play with various consistencies and materials such as plants, dirt and wood will intrigue their brains. Connections will be made to new textures. Curiosity will begin. 

Being outside during season changes such as Spring and Autumn will expose them to beautiful colours and smells. Once again curiosity will follow. Why do leaves fall? Why do they change colour? They may ask. Just the simple sniff of a daffodil may conjure up some imagination in their tiny minds. 

Going for a long walk in the local woods will treat them to tremendous noises. They may see and hear insects and animals they have never seen or heard before. A butterfly may land on their friend’s coat, queue a crowd of intrigued kids gathering around. 

 

Teamwork

Teaching them to work together as part of a team will stand them in good stead for when they begin formal education and beyond. Learning how to gather material in order to build a fire can teach them the concept of being unable to enjoy themselves until the important things are complete.  Pairing off or being in small teams in order to complete an outdoor task can be exciting for their young minds. It can spur their imaginations into life a little more than whether they are inside sat at a table.

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