Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Forest School in Ontario Off to a Great Start

Teaching kids in nature may be our best hope for the future.  There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of nature for both students and teachers. Kids who are taught outdoors appear to perform better than those who are raised in a more traditional classroom settings. It is also apparent that nature provides a raft of psychological benefits not the least of which is a general sense of well-being. 

These observations are corroborated by a program at a Kenora, Ontario school that launched this September. As reported by CBC news, Keewatin Public elementary School principle Heather Mutch says that in addition to helping to make students more attentive, being outside has mental health benefits.  Citing research Mutch explains, "when we're connected with nature, we're calmer, we have a chance to move and to breathe, and it just makes us happier beings." The Kenora school is one of a growing number of educational establishments working to get certified as a Forest School.  

Cultivating an appreciation for the natural world is an another benefit of the Forest School. As explained by Mutch, her students are learning the standard provincial curriculum, however it is illustrated with examples from nature. By spending much of their time outdoors they are cultivating a love for nature and this may translate to a propensity to take care of the natural world. "Our hope is that by engaging and connecting with nature, they will develop a love for our wonderful environment and grow up learning to take care of it," Mutch said. 

The school's outdoor learning space comprises four elements, earth, water, wind and fire. A corporate donation from Domtar in Dryden Ontario paid for staff training at the Forest School program of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. 


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Stay tuned for more green school information and resources. From August until the end of October, the Green Market Oracle will feature weekly posts as part of the 2018 edition of the Green School Series which includes links to almost 400 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.

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