On the third day of the tour we visited Sollentuna Forest School. Teachers have part of their training here so they can teach in a natural environment. Children come and learn about nature, how to identify creatures and trees, whilst learning how to sustain nature for the future. The Forest School is a playful experience which is led by teachers, yet the children have much freedom in their activities. They are fully equipped in wesatherproof clothing and are able to go inside for breaks from cold weather. They light fires to cook food, walk for miles and play games to keep warm. The very cold winters the smaller children which are ‘preschool’ age 6-7 will have short periods outside and then go inside to continue their learning. Teachers in training use the same facilities and we caught one group in action, they ate around a fire, then collecting water snails they walked to the base and conducted a session where paintings were produced from the snail studies.

Here in the UK Forest Schools are becoming more popular, schools are encouraged by Eco/Green School initiatives to take lessons outside or to a local park or a farm. Unfortunately its not compulsory and many schools miss out on the outdoors, with un-stimulating playgrounds and fears of all-weather play. We think our British children are losing touch with nature and therefore aren’t prepared to take care of it either, but in Sweden teachers believe this disconnection is occurring there too. Hard to believe, when they have a culture in schools that outdoor play is a normal, integral part of learning and ‘play policies’ aren’t required and government agendas for play aren’t because of obesity or depression. There its just what children do because they are children and they don’t feel the need to justify it.

Lily

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