Forest School Philosophy
As a species, Humans have been living and learning in natural spaces for most of our history.
In this area, for example, the Mi’kmaw people have been living and learning on, and from the land, for at least 1100 years and continue to be keepers of these traditional practices and knowledge. Over time, however, many people have grown disconnected from our natural roots as we have settled into agricultural and then industrial lifestyles. Today we are seeing an acceleration of this lack of connection to the natural world with increasing ill effects on our bodies, our minds and especially our children. People, and in particular families, are searching for ways to redevelop this relationship with nature.
Forest Schools provide year round, outdoor programs connecting kids and families to nature and the outdoors. Forest Schools originated in Denmark in the 1950’s. They are now gaining momentum internationally, across Canada and in Nova Scotia. These land based schools are connecting children to nature through free play, exploring, wondering and wandering. Here, children learn at their own pace in a natural setting, be it in a forest or an overgrown vacant lot, which they visit repeatedly over a period of time, preferably in all weather and seasons. Forest Schools in Canada, also aim to develop connections to the Indigenous groups who have historically been the keepers of the land they use. Forest Schools strive to incorporate learning from an Indigenous lens, with the more euro-centric scientific model, in the Mi’kmaw spirit of Etuaptmumk (Two Eyed Seeing).
What is a Forest School?
Forest School Principles
Regular & Repeated
Access to Natural Spaces
Forest and Nature Schools can take place anywhere outdoors, from an old growth forest to a vacant lot. Wild Wonders Forest School believes repeated access to these spaces, over days, months and seasons is key to developing children's relationships with nature. This helps them to understand themselves as part of the natural world around them.
Children as Competent Curious & Capable
At Wild WondersForest School, we believe that children are capable of leading their own learning. We believe that students of all ages are capable of asking complex questions, and expressing themselves in hundreds of ways. We encourage our learners to explore art as an important tool for expressing their ideas.
Educators Who Share Power &
At Wild Wonders Forest School, children's curiosity guides our explorations. Our educators support our learners, to expand their ideas through play. We help children to discover the world around them on their own terms, while encouraging and gently guiding the learning. Our educators are focused on student-led, emergent, inquiry based learning.
Emergent Learning & Free Play
We define play as self-directed, freely chosen and intrinsically motivated. At Wild Wonders Forest School, we encourage students to explore and pursue their own interests to ask their own questions and construct their own understanding of the world around them. We allow lots of space for free play, because we know that is an important element for deep learning.
Valuing the Importance of Risky Play
Wild Wonders Forest school acknowledges that because we are set in a natural, mature forest, there is always an element of risk involved in our program. In fact, we at Wild Wonders believe that risk and risky play is an important element in learning! Risk assessment is a life skill that children can only learn with practice.
Environmental sustainability is at the heart of all our programs. Wild Wonders Forest School believes that deep connections
with nature and direct experience on the land are the only way for children to grow up to be adults who care about and wish to protect our natural spaces.
Loose natural materials used in open ended ways
Wild Wonders Forest school values the process of learning as much as the outcome. To that end we provide natural, and loose art materials that support open-ended, creative play and let kids explore to their hearts content. We believe rocks and sticks are often the best toys as they encourage imagination and experimentation.
Working Towards Reconciliation
Wild Wonders Forest School
teaches land based education that supports reciprocal relationships with the land and encourages a commitment to the Mi’kmaq concept of Etuaptmumk; Two Eyed Seeing. Wild Wonders Forest School commits to seeking out and strengthening relationships with local indigenous communities, wherever possible.
Healthy, Strong & Diverse Communities