Forest School

Holistic Outdoor Education

Forest School is a child-led environment for participants to explore their own intuition and creativity

Forest School Ethos
Learning Theories

Six Principles of Forest School

Forest School is based on six principles.  These are that Forest School:

Nature Connection

It is scientifically proven that spending time in nature resets the nervous system and reduces the build up of stress hormones within the body. Nature Connection helps people stay grounded and remain calm and focused whatever situation they are in.

Forest School with Coille Mara

At Coille Mara Forest School we embrace the learning theories of Penny Greenland, Guy Claxton, Piaget, and Vygotsky.  We use their insights, coupled with the six principles of forest school, to create a wholesome learning environment that supports all kinds of learners. Be they young, old, kinaesthetic, verbal, visual, physically disabled, non-verbal, hyperactive, introverted, extravert or anything in between.

We recognise that every person is individual and different. And that no two people will learn in exactly the same way or have the interest to learn exactly the same things. We strive to create a space that allows any person who enters it to find something which supports them. This may be a warm cup of tea by the fire for an exhausted parent or the opportunity to run, jump and climb for an hyperactive child.

We support our participants by putting in place ample opportunities to explore, expand and experiment. We avoid looking for outcomes and instead provide process-based activities.


Joining a session

Children need time to play in their own way, be that climbing trees, splashing water, kneading clay, rolling on the ground, or sitting quietly. With this in mind, we have selected a site that already provides many different opportunities without external additions. The site is embellished each session with additional opportunities such as swings, buckets, and ropes.


As each group enters our space we observe their choice of play, reflect on what those choices may be. Next we consider whether anything needs to be adapted to avoid unnecessary risk or scaffold individual learning. We use these observations and reflections to plan the following session with this group. In this way our participants can layer their experiences week after week, re-visiting activities they want more of or else move on to something new or different.

We encourage and support where it is needed but stand back and observe as soon as the individual gives cues that they are ready to take over themselves.

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