Welcome to Forest School
Not Every Classroom Has Four Walls
Natural Discovery is the first forest school in Chicagoland, nestled in the beautiful woodlands of Camp Manitoqua in Frankfort, IL. We’ve removed the walls and brought child-led, exploratory learning to where it makes the most impact: outside. Forest schools (also known as “forest kindergartens”) have been well established for over 50 years and are among the fastest growing models in early-childhood education. Why? Because they work. Development and learning are enhanced when children are given the space and confidence to follow their curiosities, engage with peers, stimulate all senses, and test their limits. This fosters a love of learning which will serve them well beyond primary school and into their adult lives.
More Creative Thinking
Being outside in a child-led environment requires children to use more creative thinking through play, transforming sticks, pinecones, acorns, and other open-ended materials into marvelous forts, games and creations. Studies suggest that outdoor play enables more creative thinking.
Children engage in more risky play outdoors. whether they're climbing trees, crossing logs over creeks, or sitting around a fire, children learn how to navigate many risks outdoors. Risky play nurtures adventurousness and is believed to build more resilience and grit in children, which are core leadership skills applicable throughout life.
Outdoors, kids have more opportunities to run around and burn off excess energy. Researchers have found that nature has calming effects that make it easier for kids to focus on school. Additional research has shown that forest school is particularly beneficial to kids with ADHD. Being in the wild calms the child.
In forest school, children are significantly more active than in a traditional classroom setting. Prolonged physical activity can attribute to better motor skills, and less childhood obesity. Being outdoors significantly lowers the risk of spreading illness due to exposure to healthy bacteria and fresh air.