A far cry from stuffy church and village halls, Forest School is an innovative way for children to learn through play. Set beneath the canopy of real woodland with infinite childhood pleasures like mud, twigs and leaves, Forest School is one of our all time favourite activities. And here are 5, of the many reasons, why:
1. Spending time in the shade of trees promotes a sense of well being. Whether it’s the dappled sunlight, the rustling leaves or the fresh air, time around trees is known to reduce stress and ease anxiety and depression. In my case, the less joyful aspects of motherhood have helped me become intimately acquainted with the wrong side of the bed. If it’s not one thing it’s another! And these are the days I appreciate Forest School the most. Not only does the resident thunder cloud above my head always dissipate, it’s then replaced with a sense that all is right with the world. I suspect the combined offering of the trees together with the chair, the coffee and the healthy snacks (provided by Forest School) have everything to do with this phenomenon.
2. The open space at Forest School encourages children to exercise. Whatever it is about the outdoors and fresh air that makes children want to romp, the space at Forest School is no exception. Rain or shine, our weekly foray into the forest doesn’t fail to meet most of our children’s exercise requirements for the week. After 2 solid hours of propelling themselves round like overexcited puppies, I know we’re in for a relaxed afternoon and a guilt free rendezvous with the telly box when we get home.
3. The mud at Forest School is not only magic for my Mama hands, it’s also a microbe rich immunity boost for both my beans. Gone are the days where doctors advocated for the benefits of all things antibacterial. Not only are the benefits of naturally occurring microbes found in earth reported to be a great immune boost for healthy children, they’re also now reported to be protective against a whole host of allergic conditions. And if this wasn’t health benefit enough, a Forest School session will also offer your child greater protection against the risk of vitamin D deficiency. It’s thought that a 30 minute bask in natural sunshine is as effective as a daily vitamin D supplement. By my Mama calculations, that means our weekly Forest School session knocks out 4 of our weekly doses of vitamin D without needing to pop a pill! Sure, scrubbing the weekly slathering of soil off sodden clothing doesn’t excite me, but the myriad of health benefits offered by these sessions definitely does.
4. The inspiration and creativity that both my children experience in the forest is yet to rivaled by any of our other weekly activities. Whether it’s mixing up soil soup in the forest school kitchen or painting mud masterpieces on the outdoor easel, imaginative play has reached an all time high at Forest School.
5. Developing confidence and resilience are important parts of childhood that can be challenging to accomplish in this day and age. In a society where convenience and instant gratification have become top dollar, finding ways for children to safely push their limits and develop stamina can be tricky. Fortunately, nature and it’s elements provide for this parenting problem and Forest School simply offers a sociable setting in which children can enjoy it. And if you’re thinking you might feel pangs of parental guilt as you enjoy a hot brew under the shelter while your rosy cheeked children brave the elements, assure yourself that it’s an important part of their development. Enduring the wind and wilds of the woodland builds confidence and resilience in a way little else can.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Forest School near you, grab yourself and your little one some waterproofs and get out for a play in the woods. There’s no doubt that your children will thank you later!
Xx Allergy Mama
And of course, it wouldn’t be right not to offer a little shout out to our local provider; Forest School Swansea Neath Port Talbot (http://www.forestschoolsnpt.org.uk). Without the incredible support of Sasha and the team at Forest School SNPT, the Allergy Mama’s at Non-IgE Baby would never have discovered all the benefits that Forest School has to offer. Thanks for making all the adjustments to ensure that our band of Allergic Explorers can join in to the max every week. We really appreciate everything you do!