A rare thing - a longitudinal research project on Forest School validating what we do and one that provides significant evidence for practitioners and academics alike.

This study, authored by Mel McCree, Roger Cutting, and Dean Sherwin, tracked disadvantaged Key Stage 1 children over three years of weekly Forest School sessions. Of note are evident changes in children’s self-regulation and resilience, supported by the project’s approach of providing “emotional time and  space”, defined as “the provision of physical space and time in which the children are free to be themselves and express their emotions.” The positive effects were supported and recognised in school by whole school support and ownership.

The study showed that children’s academic attainment, social development, and emotional well-being increased as a result of Forest School, and did well in comparison to peers who didn’t participate, whole school and national data. The study showed, in particular, how playful social interactions in Forest School support emotional resilience which in turn supported academic attainment.

For more information see http://freerangecreativity.org/research/

The research is published at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03004430.2018.1446430

And is reviewed in the US here https://www.childrenandnature.org/research/young-children-from-disadvantaged-backgrounds-show-increased-well-being-and-academic-development-after-participating-in-a-3-year-forest-school-experience/

You can contact the main author Mel McCree at m.mccree@bathspa.ac.uk

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