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Forest School

Published on: 24 January 2017

The benefits of getting outdoors more

Here at The Jungle we appreciate the impact being surrounded in nature can have on your health and well-being. We operate on a 200-acre mass of land consisting of fields, forests, trees, hills, rivers, streams, ponds and various plant and animal species. We are literally surrounded in some of the very best nature has to offer. Having this wealth of natural elements at our disposal we are in a great position to develop programs using this rural haven.

The following benefits are taken from naturalearning.org’s ‘Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature’ Info sheet:

Supports creativity and problem solving.

Studies of children in schoolyards found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. They also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005).

Enhances cognitive abilities.

Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities (Wells, 2000).

Improves academic performance.

Studies in the US show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education support significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005).

Reduces Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms.

Contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children as young as five years old (Kuo and Taylor, 2004).

Increases physical activity.

Children who experience school grounds with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another and more creative (Bell and Dyment, 2006).

Improves nutrition.

Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (Bell & Dyment, 2008) and to show higher levels of knowledge about nutrition (Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2006). They are also more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002).

Improves eyesight.

More time spent outdoors is related to reduced rates of near-sightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011).

Improves social relations.

Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).

Improves self-discipline.

Access to green spaces, and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline within inner city youth, and particularly in girls (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).

Reduces stress.

Green plants and vistas reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results (Wells and Evans, 2003).

https://naturalearning.org/sites/default/files/Benefits%20of%20Connecting%20Children%20with%20Nature_InfoSheet.pdf

These incredible findings from the last two decades of research are astonishing and should act as a guide for parents, schools, youth groups and organisations to place more emphasis on getting kids back into nature and interacting with their natural surroundings.

We have recently developed a Forest School right here at The Jungle. Our highly trained and skilled Forest School leaders deliver sessions to young children or adults in The Jungle Woodlands. This involves activities such as playing games using imaginative play, stories, arts and crafts with natural materials, building dens and huts, using tools safely, learning about building fires and cooking and most importantly having fun while doing all of the above. These activities allow our students to learn by engaging all their senses and gives them the freedom to explore the natural environment.

For more information, see the following link:

Forest School