Although learning in, with, and through nature was an already existing practice, the global popularization of Forest School education began in the 1950s in Denmark and Sweden. Forest Schools today refer to the pedagogical method of enjoying inspirational indoor and outdoor education in a natural environment, typically in forests, woodlands, or wilderness, whether situated in lowlands or highlands.
The term “Forest School” has many synonyms, such as forest kindergarten, nature school, outdoor nursery, outdoor education, forest nursery, or nature kindergarten. The schools may be actually located in a forest, in the mountains, or in woodlands, or the term may refer to regularly carrying out educational activities in a natural environment as integral part of the educational curriculum.
Activities in Forest Schools may include adventurous challenges, research on plants and animals, hiking, camping, climbing, shelter building, canoeing, ropes courses, group games, creating nature arts and crafts, meditation, and Yoga, among other things.
Forest Schools address people of all ages, that is, children, young people, and adults, and aim at nurturing respect for and knowledge of nature (plants, animals, ecosystems, and so on), understanding nature’s relationship with mankind, and building self-esteem, curiosity, independence, creativity, resilience, problem solving competencies, social, emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual, survival, and technical skills.
Outdoor Forest School education seems to be very beneficial for children who lack confidence, or whose behaviour is considered problematic or challenging, such as children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autistic children. Through Forest School learning, children become more relaxed, confident, focused, and independent, while extending their abilities and proficiencies.