“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can ever learn from books.”
Nature schools such as forest and beach schools are learning institutions in which children are encouraged to explore the natural environment with its constantly changing appearance and abundance of natural learning opportunities. As well as studying the impact of plastic pollution and the beauty of coastal flora and fauna, the children will learn about tidal forecasts, lunar cycles, ecology and geology. They will make beach sculptures, practice their letter formation in the sand, measure length, capacity, weight and volume using natural materials. They can see food chains in action, learn how to paint watercolour landscapes using sea water on their brushes and feel inspired to write beautiful poetry. The list is endless! They get fresh air, physical exercise, make friends and work together. Learning through play and exploration is proven to be the most effective way in which children learn, regardless of their age. At Footsteps we spend one day per month at the beach carrying out focused, curriculum related learning activities as well as having lots of time to play and explore in nature.
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core,
and I think the same is true of human beings.”
David Sobel, Beyond Ecophobia