Although outdoor learning is not a new concept it has been recently increasing in popularity across the US, UK and Canada. The term forest school is often mis-used to describe all outdoor learning opportunities. The Forest School movement, which originated in Scandinavia, offers regular contact with a local wooded environment over a long term and follows a child-centered approach to learning. The advantages of the Forest School movement, in comparison with traditional learning environments, have been well documented. However, not all families have access to Forest School programs locally. Luckily there are many benefits to outdoor learning in general.
5 Benefits of Outdoor Learning
- Cognitive abilities are better developed outside the classroom than in.
- Health! “Nature-deficit disorder” describes the harmful effects on kids of too much indoor overstimulation, including attention-deficit disorder, anxiety, depression, obesity and sounds from nature can help reduce stress.
- Outdoor learning increases self motivation in students.
- Improves environmental awareness and environmental responsibility.
- The physical and emotional challenge components of outdoor activities increases self-reliance.
We partnered with our friends at Calleva to experience outdoor learning first hand. The Farm and Forest Cubs Program at Calleva is a truly unique program! This drop off program is for children 3-8 yr. olds. Influenced by the Forest School movement, the Farm and Forest Cubs Program is designed for children to experience nature through play and foster their excitement in the natural world. Play based learning combined with surrounding nature creates opportunities for deep learning in the areas of ecology, biology, botany, math, physics, literacy, language and engineering. There is also a large focus on social and emotional development, highlighting cooperation, teamwork, kindness, compassion and empathy.
Farm and Forest Cubs students have an opportunity to learn and assist in daily farm chores as well as observe and care for farm animals. Students then relocate to the forest area complete with mud kitchen, stream and a large area to explore, investigate and play. The physical space for the Farm and Forest Cubs Program is intriguing, purposeful and playful, but what really stood out was the staff. A bunch of kids playing in the forest doesn’t yield the same results as an intentional program led by experienced staff. We were continuously impressed by how adaptable, adventurous, considerate, inventive, exuberant and knowledgeable the staff were. The overall experience is open and supportive to all students. They meet the kids where they are and offer a supportive, encouraging and fun learning experience.
Farm and Forest Cubs Program Information:
5 to 1 Ratio
Monday & Tuesday 9:30am-12:30pm $35 per session
Friday 9:30am-2:30pm $55 per session
*Program information updated 9/1/19