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Forest School/Reggio Emilia Essay

The forest school approach embraces the outdoors as a learning environment for children to explore. It first originated in Denmark and was introduced to the UK in the 1950’s. This approach is important as it helps to raise a child’s self-esteem, confidence and also enable problem solving. Forest school provides a challenging environment for children as it allows children to take risks and accomplish various tasks using their own inactive and problem solving skills. Whereas the natural world provides them with different opportunities that they may not have experienced before.

Forest school is an outdoor education for children where they are permitted to visit local forests and woodland areas where children are given a range of opportunities for learning from hands on experiences; increasing their understanding of the world. The outdoor environment of forest school helps to support children’s development and learning by helping children who struggle within a classroom environment, for example: some children who struggle with maths may find that numbers don’t make sense on paper therefore finding it hard to solve mathematical problems.

However, by using an outdoor environment a practitioner may ask a child to go find ‘6 bugs and 8 leaves’ where a child could use those natural items as visual aids for interpreting, calculating and solving mathematical problems. Forest school benefits children in a number of ways, for example: the outdoor environment of forest school, helps children build their self-esteem and independence as well as enhancing a child’s personal and social skills as it allows children the time and space to explore the outdoors in order to develop their own interests.

On the other hand, some children don’t like the outdoor nature environment for example: some children don’t like to get dirty and generally may not like the great deal of exposure when it comes to the outdoors. Therefore a practitioner has to be careful how to introduce the forest school curriculum to the child; starting off small and taking it step by step giving that child support, reassurance and the confidence to feel comfortable in an outdoor environment.

Forest schools are led by the child’s interests, allowing them to investigate, which encourages children’s curiosity and exploration using all of their senses, empowering children in the natural environment and their overall holistic development. Forest school empowers as it is led by the child’s interests meaning as practitioners must listen to children attentively and by engaging with children asking them to express their opinions and their participation in decisions which guides them to find their own voices and understand their own strengths.

Reggio Emilia The Reggio Emilia approach is a signature educational philosophy which mainly focuses on preschool education; this is one of many preschool programs around the world. The Reggio Emilia approach centres its philosophy on the ‘unique child’ featured in the EYFS framework by which, this method of teaching is to focus on the nature of the child’s development by displaying a link that they share with the natural environment.

This approach is bases upon a set of principles: ‘children must have some control over the direction of their learning’, ‘children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing’, ‘children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore’ and ‘children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves’.

Therefore, the Reggio Emilia approach centres its attention on a child centred approach; this is where children have the ability to choose what they want to do or play with rather than the practitioner choosing for them. A child centred approach is important because, if a child has an option to choose what they want to do, they will be able to process information more efficiently through the motivation of play, and how much time they have to explore by themselves.

The EYFS declares that “children learn though actively investigating the world around them. ” Therefore the more they engage with an activity of their choice the more they will take from it and learn. Therefore emphasis on the Reggio Emilia approach is placed upon children’s many ‘symbolic languages’; these languages help the child explore and being to develop their own view of the world.

These languages are based on: drawing, sculpting, dramatic play and writing, in order to achieve the best in a child and basing activities on aspects of: creative thinking, exploration and discovery, free play, following the interests on the child, valuing and encouraging all ways children express themselves, allowing children to talk about their ideas and then to re-visit them. A child’s environment has always been considered important in their learning and features in the Reggio Emilia approach; this hilosophy claims that a child’s environment is known as a ‘third teacher’ as children must be able to learn through their experiences of senses: touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing; which all contribute to how the environment supports and extends a child’s development and learning. Whereas the Reggio Emilia approach in schools create a homelike environment for children. The homelike atmosphere is designed to help make children feel comfortable and learn practical life issues; in which this environment helps support children’s development, their play and encourage children’s input.

The Reggio Emilia approach benefits children as they are given a range of opportunities to express their ideas, thoughts and feeling in a variety of expressive art inspired ways, for example: if children watched a film and observed dinosaurs and then decided to draw them they would also be encouraged to find out more about dinosaurs, interact with others about dinosaurs, move like dinosaurs, sound like dinosaurs, act out dinosaurs and even paint and model dinosaurs.

The Reggio Emilia approach empowers children to become more independent and self reliant in terms of completing tasks and activities as well as enhancing their decision making skills in terms of solving problems and thinking of effective solutions.


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