An area to add Forest School Research papers

‘‘Being in That Environment Can Be Very Therapeutic’’: Spiritual Experiences in Nature

The aim of this research was to investigate the qualities and outcomes of participants’ spiritual experiences in nature. Twenty participants from Victoria, Australia, volunteered to take part in semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were subject to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, leading to the identification of superordinate themes and subthemes. This analysis indicated that spiritual experiences in nature may lead to long-term psychological well-being as a consequence of changes in self and personality, the formation of vivid memories that could be drawn
upon later, and increased contact with nature. Interview participants also discussed a desire to protect and care for environments that
were able to elicit significant affective experiences. Comparisons with findings from previous qualitative studies and implications for future research in ecopsychology are discussed.

A Framework to Assess Where and How Children Connect to Nature

The design of the green infrastructure in urban areas largely ignores how people’s relation to nature, or human-nature connection (HNC), can be nurtured. One practical reason for this is the lack of a framework to guide the assessment of where people, and more importantly children, experience significant nature situations and establish nature routines. This paper develops such a framework. We employed a mixed-method
approach to understand what qualities of nature situations connect children to nature (RQ1), what constitutes children’s HNC (RQ2), and how significant nature situations and children’s HNC relate to each other over time (RQ3). We first interviewed professionals in the field of connecting children to nature (N = 26), performed inductive thematic analysis of these interviews, and then further examined the inductive findings by surveying
specialists (N = 275). We identified 16 qualities of significant nature situations (e.g., “awe,” “engagement of senses,” “involvement of mentors”) and 10 abilities that constitute children’s HNC (e.g., “feeling comfortable in natural spaces,” “feeling attached to natural spaces,” “taking care of nature”). We elaborated three principles to answer our research questions: (1) significant nature situations are various and with differing consequences
for children’s HNC; (2) children’s HNC is a complex embodied ability; (3) children’s HNC progresses over time through diverse nature routines. Together, these findings form the Assessment framework for Children’s Human Nature Situations (ACHUNAS). ACHUNAS is a comprehensive framework that outlines what to quantify or qualify when assessing “child-nature connecting” environments. It guides the assessment of where and how children connect to nature, stimulating both the design of nature-connecting human habitats as well as pedagogical approaches to HNC.

A marvellous opportunity for children to learn – A participatory evaluation of Forest School in England and Wales

Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment. The new economics foundation (nef) and Forest Research began working in partnership to evaluate Forest School in 2002. This work involved two phases. Phase 1 was undertaken in Wales and developed a methodology for capturing the link between Forest School activities and their impact on individual children. Phase 2 built on this work and tracked a small number of children in England over an eight-month period. This publication describes both phases of the evaluation and presents the results of the evaluation. The key features of Forest School were identified as: the use of a woodland setting – a high ratio of adults to pupils – learning linked to the National Curriculum and Foundation-Stage objectives – the freedom to explore using multiple senses – regular contact for the children with Forest School over a significant period of time. The participatory action-research approach taken brought together the experience and knowledge of key stakeholders to discuss the impacts of Forest School on the children involved. From these discussions a selfappraisal template was developed for use in the field so that practitioners could track children against a number of positive outcomes. In Phase 2 of the work, eight themes emerged from the analysis of the data. Six were related to the impacts on children in terms of confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills, and knowledge and understanding. The other two themes were related to wider impacts: practitioners gaining a new perspective on the children, and a ripple effect as children took home their experiences and told family and friends about what they had learnt

A Practitioner’s Guide – Norfolk County Council

A practical document outlining ethos, history and benefits of forest schools.

A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care

The prevalence of mental ill-health is on the rise in the UK with an estimated one in four people experiencing a ‘significant’ mental health problem in any one year. With the prescription of anti-depressants at record levels and a huge demand for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and other psychological therapies, health and social care commissioners are examining and commissioning different options for cost effective services for mental health. At the same time there is increasing recognition of the importance of nature and place as a determinant of individuals’ mental health. Nature-based interventions are operating throughout the UK, working with a wide range of vulnerable groups helping to positively benefit health and wellbeing outcomes.

These nature-based interventions (also called green care and ecotherapy) could be part of a new solution for mental health care. However increasing awareness and access to these interventions is challenging given the number of organisations delivering nature-based projects and services, the variety of terms and language used to describe their activity and benefits and the variation in delivery models which use different impact measures. This research seeks to explore these issues and set out the steps required to enable a greater number of nature-based interventions to be commissioned in mental health care.

A study of the experiences of children aged 7-11 taking part in mindful approaches in local nature reserves

An increasing body of evidence highlights that the opportunities for children to play in green spaces have declined. This is despite the chorus
of voices lauding the benefits that time spent in green spaces can have on children’s health and wellbeing. This paper presents findings of research
into the experiences of children when taking part in mindful approaches in nature reserves. The children, aged between 7 and 11 years old, were
drawn from four classes in four different primary schools. After they returned to their schools a small group from each class undertook semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the data revealed a number of common themes in the children’s experiences. The children reported feeling calm
and relaxed, experiencing a different sense of time and feeling as though they had transcended their everyday reality. These results are analysed
and related to optimal experience theories, contemplative pedagogy and indigenous approaches to education.

A Thematic Analysis of Multiple Pathways Between Nature Engagement Activities and Well-Being

Research studies have identified various different mechanisms in the effects of nature engagement on well-being and mental health. However, rarely are multiple pathways examined in the same study and little use has been made of first-hand, experiential accounts through interviews. Therefore, a semi-structured interview was conducted with seven female students who identified the role of nature engagement in their well-being and mental health. After applying thematic analysis, 11 themes were extracted from the data set, which were: “enjoying the different sensory input,” “calm nature facilitates a calm mood,” “enhancing decision making and forming action plans,” “enhancing efficiency and productivity,” “alleviating pressure from society’s expectations regarding education,” “formation of community relations,” “nature puts things into perspective,” “liking the contrast from the urban environment,” “feel freedom,” “coping mechanism,” and “anxious if prevented or restricted.” The results indicate complementary mechanisms
for how nature-related activities benefit mental health and well-being that may occupy different levels of experience within a hierarchical framework informed by perceptual control theory.

Age and Gender Differences in Experience with and Connectedness to Nature Among Children

This study aims to identify the age and gender differences in children’s experiences with nature and their connectedness to nature (CTN). This study
employed a quantitative approach and involved 760 children aged 10-11 years old, including urban and rural children in Kedah and Pulau Pinang.
Questionnaires were distributed to children at schools. Findings suggest that age and gender do influence the frequency of children having experiences with nature as well as their CTN. The directions for future research are also discussed.

Benefits of Nature on Children’s Developmental Needs: A Review

The past few decades have shown that the opportunity for children to have a direct connection with nature and outdoor environment declined due to rapid urbanization. Children face various physical and health problems as consequences from this phenomenon. This paper presents a review on benefits of nature on children’s developmental needs. The review also highlights children’s experience in nature and the effect of disconnection from nature. In summary, it is crucial to understand children’s view towards nature and environment in creating spaces that reconnect them with nature. Designing for children today is indeed designing for the future as well.

Can mindfulness enhance connectedness with nature? The case of in-depth nature experiences with adolescents

This thesis is an exploratory look into the use of mindfulness practice on in-depth nature experiences to determine if the practice has benefit to the participant, their outdoor experience, and overall connectedness with nature. An original research project examined three groups of adolescents from St. Michaels University School Outdoor Education program in Victoria, BC, Canada, as they hiked the Juan de Fuca trail. Two of the three groups undertook a simple mindfulness protocol to explore the outcomes. Based on participant-observation and interviews, mindfulness practice was determined to be a useful practice towards alleviating stress and anxiety associated with aspects of in-depth outdoor experiences, such as morning preparations. Participants who practiced mindfulness on the trip asked fewer questions about the future and remained present more often than those who did not practice mindfulness. A further finding was that there are aspects of mindfulness inherent in in-depth nature experiences, such as sitting around a fire. These inherent mindfulness moments should be encouraged as they provide benefit to trip experiences, and potentially towards greater connectedness with nature. Overall, this qualitative study suggests that mindfulness is a useful tool for the benefit of human well-being and nature connection. However, more research is needed to further identify the magnitude and mechanisms of the benefit.

Children’s Connectedness To Nature And Parental Influence: A Mixed Methods Survey

The first chapter of my capstone will introduce the topic I will study and provide background information on my personal journey that led me to the topic. I will share my childhood upbringing, educational background and professional development that inspire and motivate me to look deeper into the topic of children’s connectedness to nature and parental involvement. Specifically, I will more closely examine identity development,
including the formation of attitude and ethic, the cognitive psychology and nature experience, parents’ role in environmental education and the relevancy of all these topics in young children. I will conduct a mixed-methods research consisting of two separate surveys to help answer the question: What are the ways parents positively shape their children’s connectedness to nature? I will administer a quantitative survey for children to
measure their connectedness to nature as well as a qualitative survey of parents to gather in-depth information to capture the richness of the nature experience that happens at home. These surveys will help me arrive at a better understanding of children’s connectedness to nature and parental involvement.

Connecting Youth to Nature: Environmental Education’s Role in the Future of Wellbeing and Stewardship

During my childhood, I was constantly immersed in nature. Going to a Green Ribbon School, The College School (TCS), which was focused on outdoor experiential education, I developed a connection with nature early on in life. For nearly 60 years, TCS has integrated environmental education through its classroom curriculum, intensive local and regional field studies, week-long camping excursions, and a capstone field ecology study of ecosystems throughout the southeastern US wilderness. I attended TCS from Pre-K through 8th Grade and through my experiences there, I developed a close connection with nature and a deep love for learning. During the Kindergarten program, “Day in the Woods,” I explored and hiked in the wilderness for an entire day with my eager classmates. Like every campout or fieldtrip, we journaled, sketched, and reflected in our notebooks to capture our experiences. As I grew, the trips, campouts, and themes became more involved. In 3rd Grade, we created our own community, “River City,” where each student built a model of a business, community center, or public space alongside the river on campus. I chose to build a park and interviewed a parks manager to understand their perspective of what a park should be like and how it fits into the community.

Connection with Nature in children’s reference adults

Positive experiences with nature during childhood are a strong predictor of Connection with Nature (CWN) throughout life, which has a strong explanatory factor of integral well-being and proenvironmental behavior. The objective of this study was to verify the CWN level of adults and the frequency with which they promote contact with nature to the children in their care. The research protocol included two CWN scales, questions about contact with nature, and sociodemographic data. Thus, 58 parents and 150 teachers of basic education from public schools in Manaus-AM participated in the study. Results showed these adults’ education area, age group, and frequency of contact with green areas are significant to differentiate their CN levels. Area of education is also an important factor in determining how often parents and teachers take children to green areas.

Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning

Learning need not take place solely within educational buildings. The outdoor environment has massive
potential for learning. We are extremely fortunate to have such rich urban and rural environments on our
doorsteps and our children and young people’s learning experiences can be enhanced by maximising
the potential of the outdoors. The Scottish Government is keen to see all our children and young people
having positive learning experiences in a variety of settings. This is why we are investing in the production
and promotion of guidance to support opportunities presented by the new school curriculum for learning
in the outdoors. The guidance makes it clear that the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting,
different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college

Disconnect from nature and its effect on health and well-being

The purpose of this document is to inform NHM colleagues about research on the
public’s connectedness to nature and its link to health and well-being. The Museum
is well-placed to address some of the issues and opportunities arising from this
research. This paper will also set out the implications for practice that will help inform
and shape future Museum projects.
This document is not designed to prove a link to health or well-being, nor measure connectedness to nature. It is designed to understand the current or completed projects and theories and help staff think about how the Museum fits within them. This is a living document that will be updated regularly with any new literature or research

Do Experiences With Nature Promote Learning? Converging Evidence of a Cause-and-Effect Relationship

Do experiences with nature – from wilderness backpacking to plants in a preschool, to a wetland lesson on frogs—promote learning? Until recently, claims outstripped evidence on this question. But the field has matured, not only substantiating previously unwarranted claims but deepening our understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between nature and learning. Hundreds of studies now bear on this question, and converging evidence strongly suggests that experiences of nature boost academic learning, personal development, and environmental stewardship. This brief integrative review summarizes recent advances and the current state of our understanding.

Eco-Capabilities: Arts-in-Nature for Supporting Nature Visibilisation and Wellbeing in Children

Estimates of mental health disorders and poor wellbeing among children and young people in England are escalating. While maintaining a positive relationship with nature is thought to promote personal and collective wellbeing, children and young people are spending less time outdoors, exhibiting a lack of appreciation for the environment and degrees of ‘plant blindness’. As such, there is a pressing need on behalf of schools to address these issues, and to adapt to students’ needs for a deeper and more purposeful connection with nature. This study aimed to explore the
potential of one avenue to achieving this: arts-in-nature practice. This involved utilising arts-based research methods, through which 97 children aged 7–10 drew their ‘happy place’, alongside participatory observations, and interviews and focus groups with artists and teachers, as part of the
wider Eco-Capabilities project. Findings suggest that following the arts-in-nature sessions there was a significant increase in the number of children’s drawings which featured nature as a main focus. This was achieved in three ways: by drawing newfound attention to nature; by attributing increased
value to nature; and by explicitly placing nature within the purview of wellbeing. As such, we argue that creative pedagogies outdoors likely enhance what we term ‘nature visibilisation’ in children, an outcome necessary for their personal wellbeing and sustainability of the environment. This has
significant implications for school practice in relation to how to support children’s mental health and wellbeing, alongside boosting interest in environmental sustainability and pro-environmental behaviour.

Engagement with nature and Covid-19 restrictions Survey 2021: Key Results

This summary report provides results from the Nature and Covid survey undertaken by Forest Research in 2021, as a follow up to a similar survey in 2020. The surveys undertaken in 2020 (n=2,115) and 2021 (n=398) are not directly comparable statistically as the 2020 survey asked about pre-Covid activity and during Covid activity. However, a small number of people (n=33) completed both surveys, and these were matched to explore change over both surveys.

Enhancing Nature Connection and Positive Affect in Children through Mindful Engagement with Natural Environments

Nature connection, which describes a positive relationship between humans and the rest of nature, has been recognised as a worthwhile goal of all education. Given its association with wellbeing, as well as the fact that it can predict ecological behaviours in children, there have been several calls for it to become central to environmental education, and an important tool in tackling climate change. Previous research has reported the success of short-term interventions in increasing nature connection in children, but to date no empirical studies have looked at how mindful engagement with nature can promote both nature connection and positive affect. This study took place in a nature reserve in Wales and included n = 74 children, aged 9–10, who took part in three mindful activities. Pre- and post- measures included nature connection and positive/negative affect. Analysis showed a significant small to medium effect of the activity on nature connection. Moreover, positive affect significantly increased post-activity, while negative affect showed a small decrease.

ETI publish a thematic report on Pre-school and Foundation Stage: Delivering the Curriculum Outdoors

ETI have produced a thematic paper on delivering the curriculum outdoors in pre-school and foundation stage classes. The report provides information on the effective delivery of the curriculum through outdoor learning within early year’s classes in pre-schools and FS classes in primary schools. It also highlights some of the successes and challenges reported by staff and reflects the range of external support that is available.

FOREST AND NATURE SCHOOL IN CANADA: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning

The role of this guide is to help educators and the communities that surround and support them, (such as administrators, facilities staff, parents, licensing officials, etc.), to learn more about Forest and Nature School (FNS) and what this model of education offers Canadian children. As we define Forest and Nature School, dive into the ethos and learning theories embedded in this model of education, and share resources with you we hope you will feel inspired to look into Forest and Nature School more deeply.

Forest School and its impacts on young children: Case studies in Britain

As Forest School has become more widespread throughout Britain an understanding is needed of its impact. This paper outlines a two-phase evaluation project undertaken in Wales and England from 2002 to 2005. The evaluation was undertaken through a partnership between Forest Research and the New Economics Foundation. A methodology was developed to explore the impacts of Forest School on children and this was then used to track changes in 24 children at three case study areas over an 8-month period. The research highlights that children can benefit in a range of ways. Six themes emerged from the data of the positive impacts on children in terms of confidence, social skills, language and communication, motivation and concentration, physical skills and knowledge and understanding. Two further themes highlight the wider impacts of Forest School on teachers, parents, and the extended family. Contact with the natural environment can be limited for children and young people in contemporary society due to concerns about safety outdoors and issues of risk and liability. Forest School provides an important opportunity for children to gain access to and become familiar with woodlands on a regular basis, while learning academic and practical skills. The constructivist theory of learning seems to be particularly suited to the Forest School approach as children make meaning from their direct experiences. The participatory action research approach taken in this study promoted reflective practice amongst the stakeholders involved and provided them with a sense of ownership of the study, as well as an opportunity to learn from each other.

Forest School for Wellbeing

The Breeze Project was conceptualised by Harriet Menter, Scotswood Garden, as a targeted project to support children and young people (CYP) who struggle in the classroom due to social and emotional difficulties. Over the last 3 years we have worked with five schools (one first, two primary and two secondary special schools) with CYP whose social and emotional difficulties stop them from achieving their full potential. The CYP have attended FS sessions once a week for between four months and two and a half years (term time only). The sessions are planned, delivered and evaluated by the Forest School leader and trainer from Scotswood Garden, together with school staff who undertake the training. The project has been evaluated by Newcastle University and has been found to have a significant impact on the CYP’s wellbeing which is why we are sharing our learning with other schools.

Forest School: evidence for restorative health benefits in young people

Funded by Forestry Commission and the Economic and Social Research Council. Based on research by Jenny Roe, Peter Aspinall and Catharine Ward Thompson (Edinburgh College of Art).

Forest Schools and environmental attitudes: A case study of children aged 8–11 years

There is growing evidence that children in the UK are suffering from a lack of engagement with nature and the outdoor environment. This paper investigates the attitudes of children towards the natural environment and focuses on Forest School programmes as a mechanism to promote a “pro-environmental” attitude. The study identified that there was a statistically significant difference in environmental attitude between groups of children that had participated in a Forest Schools programme and those that had not participated, with children who have taken part in Forest Schools demonstrating a more pro-environmental attitude. Whilst it is recognised that Forest Schools may not be the only factor influencing these attitudes, this is still an important finding that adds to the overall benefits of participation in Forest Schools programmes.