We're celebrating International Literacy Day this week at Wildlings. You may wonder what Forest School has to do with something as academic as learning literacy, so read on to find out!
Forest School: A Natural Ground for Literacy Development
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." - Frederick Douglass
Did you know that Forest Schools don't merely shift the classroom to the outdoors; they fundamentally alter the approach to learning? With its foundation in experiential education, Forest School presents a potent blend of hands-on experience with structured literacy development and here's how:
Authentic Context: In traditional classrooms, words might be learned in isolation, but in the forest, they come alive. When children learn the word 'stream,' they're not just seeing it on paper. They're hearing the trickle, feeling the cool water, and observing its winding journey.
Enhanced Vocabulary: The diverse array of flora and fauna provides an endless reservoir of new words and concepts. As children encounter unfamiliar plants or insects, they're prompted to expand their vocabulary, naturally and contextually.
Narrative Skills: The forest is a storyteller. Every rustle, shadow, and footprint can spark a child's imagination. They don't just listen to stories; they create them, embedding their personal experiences within.
Comprehension: By interpreting signs of wildlife, changing seasons, or understanding the interconnectedness of the ecosystem, children sharpen their comprehension skills. They learn to read the forest, which, in many ways, is a complex, ever-evolving text.
The Forest School ethos recognizes that literacy isn't just about reading words but understanding the world. And where better to start that journey than in the embrace of nature, where every element narrates a unique story?
The Magic Behind the Method
At Wildlings, we weave literacy into our sessions with intention and creativity. Here’s just a few examples of how we lay the foundation of literacy amidst the wonder of our unique nature space, designed specifically to deliver the most authentic and high-quality Forest School experiences available in Singapore:
Thematic Storytelling: Every session could start with a mesmerizing story, setting the tone and theme for the day. This not only fuels children's imaginations but also enhances their listening skills and vocabulary. A carefully chosen book to end a session can sometimes be our guide to strengthen specific learning objectives, anchoring the sessions experiences in a rich literary context.
Word Play Games: Remember the classic game of 'broken telephone'? In the enchanted forest it takes on a new charm. Kids whisper and pass on words or sentences, promoting attentive listening and verbal communication.
Puzzle Adventures: Our 'letter unjumble' treasure hunts are a hit! Children follow clues, find hidden letters in the forest, and then come together to figure out the word. This game not only reinforces phonics and spelling but also promotes teamwork and critical thinking.
Our Onsite Book Collection: Nestled among the trees is our cherished collection of books. Kids can dive into stories, allowing them to connect the words they read with the environment around them. It's an immersive reading experience like no other when a child takes a book, sits quietly in the forest, and reads about nature.
Bringing Stories to Life: One of our most loved themes for accompanied sessions is 'Forest Stories.' Here, stories set outside, like 'The Gruffalo,' 'We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,' and 'Stick Man,' come alive. Children reenact these tales, stepping into the shoes of characters, enhancing both their imaginative and narrative skills.
Reflective Conversations: Each session concludes with a time of reflection, where children gather to share their experiences, thoughts, and learnings. This encourages expressive language development, comprehension, and the ability to connect experiences with words.
These examples illustrate Wildlings' commitment to promoting literacy in a unique, engaging manner. Using the forest as an inspiration and the ethos of Forest Schools, these activities foster a deep connection between children, language, and the world around them.
""Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher." - The Tables Turned, Wordsworth
Why International Literacy Day?
International Literacy Day isn't just a celebration of reading and writing—it's a reminder of literacy's power to enlighten minds, bridge cultures, empower individuals and create a more sustainable future. This year's theme is "Promoting literacy for a world in transition: building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies".
At Wildlings, the 2023 International Literacy Day theme resonates deeply with our ethos. Our nature-centric education instills a profound respect for the environment, nurturing future stewards of sustainable societies. The tranquility of the forest teaches children patience and conflict resolution, essential for building peaceful communities. Moreover, in a world constantly in flux, our lessons from the ever-adaptive nature prepare children for societal changes. By expanding the definition of literacy beyond just words, integrating stories and puzzles set amidst nature, Wildlings equips young minds for both academic success and responsible global citizenship in our evolving world.
Call to Action
Add your photo to the #ImALifelongLearner campaign run by UNESCO
Check out this great list of the best book read alouds on You Tube by We Are Teachers
Source the best books on nature from this fabulous list from Mother Natured (a blog favourite of ours!): 101+ Enchanting Nature Books for Kids
Come along to our Celebration of International Literacy Day at Wildlings each year. We have a library corner, book swap, story-themed craft activity and book giveaway all complimentary to our usual playtime fun!
Embracing nature and literacy together offers children a holistic learning experience. As the forest invites your child to play, and with International Literacy Day just days away, there's no better time to dive into the world of words amidst nature than now.
Claire is the Founder and CEO of Wildlings, an environmental scientist by training and an environmental sustainability consultant and educator by trade (aside from being a busy mum to two sometimes wild children). Claire enjoyed a very outdoorsy childhood collecting acorns, making daisy chains and sifting dirt to get the perfect pile. Once upon a time Claire was an enthusiastic ultimate frisbee player and before Wildlings taught pre-school sports classes. Claire is on a mission to help City kids experience a wilder childhood through the Forest School approach to learning and founded Wildlings in 2019 offering outdoor activities for children and families in Singapore to do this.