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Nature for Learning and Wellbeing: A Forest School Approach to Literacy and Maths

Nature for Learning and Wellbeing: A Forest School Approach to Literacy and Maths

Nature for Learning and Wellbeing: Resourcing Learning in Nature

We are always inspired by the benefits that connecting to nature can bring us, not only in terms of learning, but also to our physical and mental wellbeing. Participation in Forest School helps develop lifelong wellbeing and resilience practices that can support individuals with strategies to thrive and cope with stress and anxiety. Learning in nature also enables participants to connect with a sense of place and community, and empowers participants to become mentors and nature guardians.

Nature as Educator

There is something unquantifiable that happens to us when we go to the woods. Research is increasingly pointing towards the benefits of time in wild spaces for children’s learning and wellbeing. In his book The Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv coined the phrase ‘nature deficit disorder’ to describe  how humans, especially children, are spending less time in nature and the negative consequence that this is having. At the same time as we are beginning to value these benefits, opportunities for playing in wild spaces are becoming less accessible, reminding us again as educators why learning in nature is so vital for children.

Locating learning  in a natural outdoor setting facilitates the development of a relationship between the learner and nature. From this relationship emerges unique contexts for learning that support risky play and opportunities to learn new skills. Nature has a way of teaching us the natural consequences of our actions. If you put your rain jacket at the bottom of your pack, you’re going to get wet when it begins to rain!

Filling our Own Cup

As educators, it is important that we tend to our own nature connection practice so that we might share it with others. On this course, participants will learn simple ways to build nature connection which they can easily introduce to their daily class routine. Over recent months, many of us have had cause to connect with our local wild spaces and see with fresh eyes the intrinsic value of nature, especially for learning and wellbeing.  We wonder if nature might play a role to support us as we adjust to the new learning landscape. Developing a programme for learning in nature can be as simple as making the decision to get outdoors daily with your class and connect with nature.

This Introduction to Forest School for Educators is an opportunity to experience the principles of Forest School in a fun and embodied way. This course is suitable for educators with an interest in taking learning outdoors and linking outdoor learning activities to the Curriculum through literacy and numeracy opportunities afforded by Forest School. Some of the topics, skills and questions which we will explore on this course include;

  • Describe the benefits of outdoor learning for physical, emotional and mental wellbeing,
  • Identify the key principles and elements of Forest School and outdoor learning,
  • Review and evaluate a range of international approaches to outdoor learning, nature pedagogy, and nature play,
  • Examine the role and value of play and consider how play offers opportunities for teaching and learning in an outdoor learning environment,
  • Safe tool use to make simple wild craft projects,
  • Explore natural shelter building,
  • Experience fire craft and wild cooking,
  • Discover the invisible learning of nature games,
  • Experience the profound benefits of Sit Spot Practice,
  • Learn how a Forest School approach can be used as a therapeutic intervention in a home or school setting to support challenging behaviours, social skills and sensory development,
  • Explore how we, as educators, can support a child-led curriculum and understand the many benefits of risky play in learning, and
  • Create and plan for meaningful contexts in literacy and numeracy.

Maura Brennan and Darach Ó Murchú

Maura Brennan is a Forest School facilitator at Slí na Coille, Kilkenny Forest School, and founder of The Acorn Project, a Community Seedsaving and Forest School programme for Primary schools. Darach Ó Murchú works in environmental, outdoor and nature education as a teacher of wild food foraging courses (specialising in seaweed), is a leader of nature walks, a Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics trainer and a facilitator of Wildcraft and Forest School programmes.

Course Properties

Course date 05-07-2021 9:30 am
Course End Date 09-07-2021 2:00 pm
Registration Start Date 20-05-2021 4:00 pm
Capacity 15
Cut off date 02-07-2021 12:00 pm
Individual Price €50.00
Speaker Darach Ó Murchú and Maura Brennan, Forest School Facilitators
Number Hours 20
Location Jenkinstown Wood, Co. Kilkenny
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Eircode - R95 RH97


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Dept of Education