The benefits of a forest education
There is overwhelming evidence that getting kids outdoors provides the best possible start in life and we are proud to foster this at Little Forest Folk.
Studies demonstrate that children now know less about the natural world than ever before in the history of humankind. According to the National Trust, fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, and one in ten can’t ride a bike . These increasingly indoor and sedentary lifestyles are leading to distressing physical and mental symptoms, including obesity (linked to low overall fitness levels), behavioural problems, stress and a lack of awareness of nature and its benefits.
Fortunately, increasing outdoor time for children is the simplest way to tackle these problems and a forest education offers a range of proven health and wellbeing benefits.
At Little Forest Folk we are all about getting children outside and scientific evidence suggests that this is one of the best ways to address the inactivity that leads to obesity and other related health issues. Studies have shown that children have higher physical activity levels in greenspaces compared to non-greenspaces and that children who spend more time outdoors have better motor skills and fitness, especially balance and coordination. Being outside more also helps to prevent myopia (nearsightedness) in children. Playing outside for prolonged periods has been shown to have a positive impact on children's development, particularly in the areas of balance and agility, but also manual dexterity, physical coordination, tactile sensitivity, and depth perception.
According to these studies, children who attend forest kindergartens experience fewer injuries due to accidents. A child's ability to assess risks also improves. Playing outdoors strengthens the immune systems of both children and daycare professionals.
REDUCED Behavioural problems/IMPROVED RESILIENCE
Behavioural problems are becoming more prevalent, with studies suggesting these may stem from children having little interaction with the natural world. We also live in complicated and stressful times and managing stress is an important life skill to develop.
Nature allows unstructured play, generating a sense of freedom, independence and inner strength which children can draw upon when experiencing future incidents of stress. Research indicates that green outdoor spaces not only foster creative play and improve interactions with adults, but also improves concentration and relieves the symptoms of ADHD. Some researchers go so far as to claim that contact with nature may be as important to children as good nutrition and adequate sleep.
Young people need opportunities to experience and learn from nature during their growing years in order to become citizens and future decision makers who will take responsibility for the stewardship of the Earth. Engaging users at a young age can result in lifelong positive attitudes about nature and the wider environment. People who have had frequent childhood experiences in natural places tend to feel more comfortable visiting these places alone and have a more positive attitude towards these spaces as adults. We want to raise a generation of young people that understand the benefits of the natural world and are motivated to protect it.
[2} Wheeler, et al, 2010.
 Rose et al., 2008
 University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, 2007.
 Honoré, Carl, 2008
 UK National Ecosystem Assessment, 2011
 Forestry Commission England, 2006
 London Sustainable Development Commission, 2011
 Thompson, C. W., Aspinall, P., & Montarzino, A. 2008