Learning outdoors: growing explorers, not robots

6 December, 2018
Categories: Blog

Look at my baby dragons,” says three-year-old Rubens, gently stroking three polished stones. “They are sleeping now. Shhhh,” he whispers. Sitting under a tree nearby, two other boys hammer sticks into the ground. They are building a house for “the little people” – wooden figures, which staff have provided to inspire the children around this week’s theme of ‘small world’.  Full blog


Active Students Could Outperform Sitting Students by 16%

4 December, 2018
Categories: Blog

The BBC has published an article detailing new research on active students. “International research found that after three years of physically active learning, pupils were still more attentive following the activity…After one active lesson, a child can improve their Maths performance by as much as 16%. If your child learns in an active way, after two years, they could be four months ahead in maths and spelling compared to traditional seated classroom learning.”  Full article here


43 Reasons our Kids Need to Play More by Neve Spicer

30 November, 2018
Categories: Blog

Is your child getting enough ‘free play’?

Child-led free play – the unstructured time during which children can act out their fantasies, create their own rules, and explore the world at their own pace – profoundly benefits their early development.

As parents or teachers, we want to ensure that our children grow into happy and successful adults. Feeling anxious to make this happens, too often we are feeling pressured to fill their school days with classes and their after school time with ‘enrichment’ activities.

While extra academics, arts and athletics can bring value, the danger is children losing out on free play; that is, the unstructured time where they choose for themselves how to play.

Overwhelmingly, research into childhood development is showing how self-directed play is vital. It supports the healthy growth of children both emotionally, cognitively, socially and physically.

Here is an extensive list of evidence-based benefits that children get from free play:











































To learn more about these benefits, read this article.

Not all play is equal

Self-directed free play has some essential features which make it so positive and separate it from organised activity and passive entertainment (eg screen time).

1) Children lead and make their own decisions

When children have the freedom to make their own rules and choose how and what they play with, they learn about the very process of decision making and consequences.

We can support them by providing open-ended materials and loose parts. These offer endless possibilities and children get to choose what objects and will become and how they will use them.

2) Children become immersed in their play

Most of us can remember times when we played until the sun went down. True play is something children can lose themselves in. It is free from unnecessary interruption and without the external input from adults or digital media. When children are given space and time to play by themselves, they get immersed in their fantasy role play or exploration of the world around them.

3) Play is spontaneous

In free play, children act impulsively and creatively. Within a moment, the narrative or game suddenly changes. Children are adaptable and this type of non-scripted play allows them to be flexible in their thinking and negotiate the journey with their peers.

4) Play is fun

An organised activity may externally look like play, but if a child is not having fun, then it can’t truly be called play. Fun is in the very essence of play. It is something children are drawn to as a fundamental need, just as important to them as food or sleep.

With so much positive research available in the field of child development, perhaps it is time to prioritise play both at school and at home.

Play Deprivation Can Damage Early Child Development

26 November, 2018
Categories: Blog

Long-term impacts of play deprivation during early child development include isolation, depression, reduced self-control and poor resilience.

Educators, parents and policymakers should all be concerned at the rapid decline in unsupervised free play for children, which may damage early child development and later social and emotional learning, according to research.  Full blog


Playing is Learning

9 November, 2018
Categories: Blog

As part of a recent parent survey, we asked parents if they could change one thing about Little Forest Folk, what would it be? The vast majority responded ‘nothing’, which is always lovely to hear.  Full blog


Say Yes to Play

6 November, 2018
Categories: Blog

Play is not only important for physical development and as a way to have fun, but play builds children’s brains, and gives them the tools they need for coping and resilience in a rapidly changing world.  Full blog


Communicating Risk to Parents

24 October, 2018
Categories: Blog

This article will examine the importance of effectively communicating both the risks and benefits associated with outdoor education programs to parents, in order for them to provide informed consent for their child to participate.
An overview of the current social context in which we are operating, as well as an examination of how and why risks are perceived in certain ways will be presented. Finally the practical impact this could have on risk communication strategies will be offered.  Full article