Whenever a friend has a baby and they announce the name, I always do the same thing. I send them a card and in it, I write in it: Welcome (baby’s name) to the world. It’s going to be one, big fantastic adventure!’ I believe that it is a great way to see the world we live in. We should never stop being fearless explorers of this beautiful planet. So how do you convince children to discover more about the world around them? Well, the earlier, the better. I recently heard about a beautiful project at Amity International in Amstelveen. It encourages all the children to get very hands-on with nature. So let’s learn more about the Forest School at Amity International.
Amity International is a beautiful school in Amstelveen that opened only in 2018. It is a bright, open, modern school with fabulous spaces and facilities. It is a young and confident school that continues to grow yearly due to its unique learning environment. Every room in the school has been designed and fitted to the highest standards, and it all lends itself perfectly to learning and teaching. Another essential element is that the school is surrounded by green areas, parks and forests. All this nature lends itself perfectly to the Forest School. The children get to play in this natural environment and observe it changing through the seasons. They learn to climb among the trees, observe the local wildlife and connect with the natural world around them. I find this a fantastic learning concept and wanted to know more. I hope you enjoy this Q+A about the Forest School learning concept.
q1. Such a fantastic idea! How do the children react to this amazing learning environment?
Children are amazed by this outdoor learning space! They can practice different skills compared to a typical classroom setting, allowing them to grow their abilities in an other way. The IB curriculum for the Early Years is all about play and learning through inquiry, and what better place to do that than in the forest?
q2. Please give us examples of the kind of things the children are learning.
The children are using their interests and fascinations to inquire about the forest. It might be that the children are just observing or perhaps taking a risk and trying something new like rope walking, climbing trees or bug hunting. During Forest School, children get the opportunity to be more independent, which helps with their development. One of the children was afraid to get dirty, but now she’s the first to jump in the mud!
q3. What other personal advantages are the children getting from this initiative?
Many of the fundamental learning skills are developed in the forest, for example, improving their communication skills, the ability to make connections, their problem-solving skills or the way they collaborate with their peers. Forest Schools help improve concentration and a child’s motivation to learn by providing them with a multi-sensory experience.
They can also help children gain more independence and self-confidence, reduce anxiety, build resilience, and improve communication skills. We allow them to explore the natural world around them and to learn valuable lessons about sustainability and climate in a natural way.
q4. What do the parents tell you about what changes they have noticed since the children started Forest School?
Parents have told us that their children’s self-confidence and personal development significantly grow each week and that Forest School brings out the best in their children. Parents also indicated that the children developed their problem-solving skills and creativity. Forest School is also seen as an antidote to too much screen time, triggering an interest in the world around them. Overall, parents really value the Forest School activities we offer our Early Years students.
q5. How will the Forest school evolve moving forwards?
We are constantly improving and renewing the concept of Forest School. We have been working hard to improve the mud kitchen elements so that the children can incorporate the mud into their sensory play. Our teachers are also working hard to create a second base camp, and we will start to filter Forest School through our Lower Primary years next term, allowing children to continue to go to Forest School as they enter Primary Years 1. We are also working on other elements of the Forest School to include subjects such as math and science to ensure all our learning can happen both inside the classroom and beyond the walls of our school building!
There is a beautiful video about Forest School at Amity International on the website. It is an excellent insight into how it all works. There is a lovely quote from one of the children about why they love the Forest School: “Trying your best not to be scared of anything.”
So, a fascinating insight into life at Amity International. Thank you for these answers. It looks amazing!
Contact details for Amity International:
The AIS website
Address: Amsterdamseweg 204, 1182 HL Amstelveen
Phone: 020 345 4481
All photos are provided by Amity International.
For more like Forest School at Amity International, see our local articles here.