Learning in a woodland setting can inspire children to be confident, connect with the natural world and learn how to deal with everyday risks.
With rising obesity levels being a major issue in Scotland, learning outside also has the benefits of getting pupils more active, even more so than in traditional PE lessons.
This was the message from Forestry Commission Scotland at the 7th European Forest Pedagogics Congress, being held for the first time in the UK at Dunkeld from 2 to 5 October. Over 100 delegates attended the conference from 16 countries including Australia, Canada, Slovakia, Germany and Finland.
The conference was organised by Forestry Commission Scotland, Forest Education Initiative, Living Classrooms and the European Network of Forest Pedagogy.
In his keynote speech, David Howat, Deputy Director of Forestry Commission Scotland said: “Over the past few years there has been a seismic shift in how education is approached in Scottish schools through the Curriculum for Excellence. Taking children into the great outdoors is a key component of this.
“With around 90 per cent of schools within 1 kilometre of some woodland,  there are great opportunities to make use of green-spaces for education.

Boosted Confidence
“Research tells us that when young people go outside to learn, they make better connections about the world around them and are more physically active.
“Working with pupils out in the woods is not without its problems, but there are huge rewards. Understanding risks and being able to assess risks are all fundamental life skills and yet young people are often constrained or lack the freedom to explore the natural world on their doorstep.
“Taking learning into a forest – especially if parent helpers are present – can be an education for everyone.”
The programme, taken from Scandinavia, has helped increase activity levels, boosted confidence and improved social skills in the children, as well as learning about the environment.

 

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