Resilience, confidence, independence and creativity are all fostered within the Forest School approach and link closely with the other areas discussed in the learning and development section.
Resilience: This relates to the ability to recover quickly from disappointment, failure, difficulties, toughness, etc. Grown through:
- Skill based activities in particular require resilience. Resilience develops as children/clients try new skills and don’t achieve the required result initially. As children/clients attend forest school from week to week their resilience will grow, they will learn practice makes perfect.
- A particular example I have encountered regularly is the ability to light fires, which caused people issues at all training sessions, however is was clear that resilience coupled with perseverance ensured they finally acheived.
- Working with groups of people can also require resilience as children/clients learn to cope with other peoples ideas and differences. Resilience is required when solving conflicts.
Confidence: This is the ability of the clients/children to have faith in themselves and others. Grown through:
- Confidence is again built through the practice and perfection of forest school skills. You can often see shy children grow in confidence as they master a new skill, especially if they achieve it before others and can help teach the skill.
- The nature of the freedom to explore and investigate with activities allows individuals to tackle them in a way that suits them, often leading to positive results and a growth in confidence.
Independence: Is the ability of the clients/children to work on their own free from influence of the leader. A group can also work independently without influence from others. Grown Through:
- A practitioner giving a group freedom to set up their own site when they arrive.
- The freedom for an individual or group to explore/investigate a task and how to solve it.
- The use of tools and skills without the lead practitioner, once a level on competence has been gained.
- The ability for an individual to decide what they want to do in the woods, start their own projects.
Creativity: This is the ability of the clients/children to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. Grown Through:
- The ability to choose their own activities, allowing them to creatively use the woodland.
- Targeted open ended activities that encourage creativity, e.g. make your own woodland seat, build a house for the fairies, create some artwork using the nature around you.
- Fostering the Forest School ethos, no idea/ interpretation is a bad one, allowing people to share their work, others can learn to be creative through watching those around them and hearing their ideas.
The Forest School ethos and approach to resilience, confidence, independence and creativity is supported by a number of learning theories that have grown in popularity over the last few years. Click the theories name to learn in more detail.
The Theory of Loose Parts – Essentially, the provision of loose materials can help clients grow resilience, confidence, independence and creativity by using these items to develop their own play experiences.
Fraser Browns Compound Flexibility – This theory involves using the engaging environment to lead the learning flexibly. E.g. An animal is spotted in the woodland and this leads the learning for the session.
With all of the above skills it is important to know when to intervene and when to take a step back. It is always tempting to jump in and help some one when they are struggling, however it is often far more beneficial for the individual to work through the problem themselves.