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Forest School

What is Forest School?

Forest School is an innovative educational approach and a wonderful way of helping children to learn about the natural environment and about themselves, while developing a whole variety of skills and improving physical and mental health. Forest School takes place in addition to, rather than instead of, the regular primary school curriculum. Participating in Forest School has been shown to improve many children's performance at school. 


Defined as an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem, Forest School provides hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or an outdoor natural setting with trees. 

(Irish Forest School Association)


It is a child-centred and child-led process with close links to regular curriculum objectives of Irish primary schools.


Learning is holistic and closely related to developmental stage and regular curricular requirements. 


There is a high ratio of adults to children, everyone is suitably dressed and a risk/benefit approach to health and safety is followed by all. 


(1) Regular sessions;

(2) Woodland setting;

(3) Community;

(4) Holistic development;

(5) Opportunity to take supported risks;

(6)Qualified practitioners.

The Irish Forest School Association (IFSA) supports the development of Forest School learning in Ireland: 

Wild Plants Can Sing Forest School is a member of the Irish Forest School Association.

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What kind of activities do children participate in?

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Benefits of Forest School

In the words of Richard Louv, the author of the acclaimed book

Last Child in the Woods,

“Contact with nature is as important to children

as good nutrition and adequate sleep.”

Forest School has been shown to have the following benefits:

~ builds confidence and resilience,

~ improves physical and emotional well-being,

~ improves social and communications skills,

~ helps build empathy for the natural world,

~ allows for experiences of joy and freedom;

brings about improvement in social skills 

(for example, children negotiating with each other

to achieve group tasks and helping others);

~ improves language skills and vocabulary;

~ increases motivation and concentration;

~ provides opportunities to manage risks and learn to assess risks;

~ learning about Nature, Irish biodiversity, flora and fauna;

~using imagination;

~ improved physical skills and confidence to face challenges,

through development of fine motor skills;

~ increased knowledge and respect for the natural environment;

~ enhanced numeracy and literacy skills.

See, for example, the following published studies:

O’Brien, L. and Murray, R. A Marvellous Opportunity for Children to Learn. 2006

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