What happens at Bosque Escola Avelãs if it rains or the weather is very cold?

The Forest School takes place rain or shine because we believe that “there is no bad weather with a good coat”. In outdoor children’s education, clothing is an essential factor. The children must be dressed appropriately for the seasons of the year. During the rainy days they must be equipped with a raincoat and waterproof boots. For cold days, the best strategy is the “onion method”, where the child is dressed in several layers, including a hat and gloves. For the heat, they should be equipped with a hat that protects them from the sun. We have a shelter where the children keep their belongings and can take refuge, and the farm provides large areas of shade and water to cool off.

Will my child be safe at Bosque Escola Avelãs?

The children’s safety is taken very seriously at Bosque Escola Avelãs (BEA). Safety guidelines are followed at all times, both by the teachers and the children. The teachers are qualified in first aid for children. The children are also insured against accidents.

After attending BEA, will the children be prepared to attend a formal school?

Our type of education teaches children to trust in themselves, to be autonomous, and it respects their motivation to learn. In BEA maxi, the teachers also focus on supporting the children to obtain the knowledge appropriate for their ages. This leaves the children ready to attend any type of formal school.

What are the benefits of being in contact with nature?

– The sun is a source of vitamin D, responsible for various functions in the body such as fixing calcium in the bones, ensuring the proper functioning of the liver and intestines, regulating the impulses of hunger, thirst, and sleep, strengthening the immune system, physical resistance, attention span and learning.

– Nature teaches us that time is not linear, but is based on cycles (day and night, seasons, weather) with long, constant and patient intervals. This allows us to relax and trust in life, learning to accept it and accept ourselves.

– The outdoors improves the feelings of well-being and self-esteem, which is why it is often “prescribed” to treat emotional and behavioral disorders such as the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

– After a day in the open air with a lot of movement, sleep at night is deeper and refreshing, which provides more energy and lightness the next day.

– In the open air, the senses develop together. Smells, noises, and different textures are perceived at the same time. In addition, the horizon is wider so that the peripheral vision is developed which helps spatial orientation.

– It has been shown that children frequenting open-air schools have 80 % fewer colds, sore throats, ear infections and other contagious diseases than those attending indoor schools.

What are the benefits of learning outdoors?

– Outdoor learning is based on direct experiences that stimulate all the senses, and students develop their own ideas of the world around them. The classroom is nature and unlimited materials are available to interact with.

– Fantasy and creativity are awakened when the children themselves create their games and toys (there are no prefabricated toys in our forest school). Learning is facilitated by interacting with nature.

– The activities that children develop when jumping, climbing, or running mean that they exercise the body as a whole. The development of movement is fundamental in developing other skills later on, such as language.

– Between two and six years of age, contact with nature is crucial for the children’s development as they need to move, explore, and interact with everything that surrounds them. This helps with their development in (at least) three aspects simultaneously. In the cognitive aspect, by promoting creativity, concentration and language. In their social skills, by promoting a sense of responsibility and respect. In their physical development, as mentioned above.

What is free play based on?

– The children play by themselves and are supervised by one or more adults. The ratio of adults to children is generally 1:5.

– Free play is part of our routine that alternates fairly unstructured phases in which the children have more autonomy and freedom, with structured phases when the adult requires it, for example, when eating or telling a story.

– In these unstructured phases (free play), children choose who, where, and what they want to dedicate themselves to. They invent their own games with their own rules. It is their own interest that moves them. Through their own games they learn using the materials that nature offers, such as sticks, stones, leaves, and flowers. The adult has the role of ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of the children, paying maximum attention to the children but not interrupting them while they are immersed in their activities, and intervening only in case of conflict or danger.

Note: part of this information has been collected from the book “Educar en Verde” by Heike Freire and the book “Bosquecuela” by Philip Brich, books we recommend to anyone who wishes to acquire a deeper knowledge of green pedagogy and the Bosque Escola method. It is also based on the work of Tamara Chubarovsky that connects language and movement.