“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
Maria Montessori advocated for children to have free access to the outdoors, where space is limitless and children can exert themselves candidly. Spending time in gardens and parks is one way that children can be encouraged to explore the natural world – to get messy, play, gather, explore and engage their natural curiosity – but have you ever considered Forest School?
Forest School is not merely a playgroup or craft session; it’s a child-centred inspirational learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. Forest School supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting. Sound familiar? Like something Montessori!
The learning process at Forest School is about more than knowledge-gathering; it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. It creates a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try stuff out and take risks. Forest School inspires a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how a learner fits within it.
Children are encouraged in skills that will build independence; activities are age appropriate (so children can always participate) and incorporate real equipment (wheelbarrows, knives, ropes, pulleys, nets). Children climb trees, swing on rope swings, build dens with branches and light fires. Forest School happens no matter the weather – children layer up to stay warm and put on wellies when it’s wet.
There is no wrong way to play and children learn by doing. They can choose what do to and when, within limits of maintaining the safety of other children (you can play with sticks but you cannot throw sticks at other children) and staying within the marked area in which Forest School is taking place.
Montessori children and families will be familiar with this type of child-centric learning and little ones will easily fit in to the ethos of the Forest School environment. To find out more about Forest School camps and events in your area, visit Forestschoolassociation.org