What is Forest School, and why are we doing it?

A New Concept in Knoxville

For centuries, countries all over the world have been pursuing the concept of forest schools, in order to start the educational journey for children in a place of wonder, curiosity and collaboration. It is a relatively new concept in the United States. It began out West and in the Northeast and has moved to our area. We are proud to be Knoxville’s first forest school program. We are currently moving into our third year of operation.

Interest Led Flow of Learning

Forest school is an early learning model that instills in students the vitally important soft skills for their journey through life:

  • Curiosity, Collaboration, Connection

  • Risk Assessment, Problem Solving and Resilience (Grit!)

We think of these skills as roots of learning. Strong roots mean a strong future. We value what our students value and take interest in. We watch and wait for opportunity to enter into their curiosity and help guide it. We listen to our kids, respond to their needs and interests and help them build healthy paths of empathy, inquiry, collaboration and courage. It’s such a joy to respond to the natural wonder so implicit in the young. We learn from them and cherish them as they grow!

Our children love taking “actual” journeys through nature.

Our children love taking “actual” journeys through nature.

Nature is art, and when we add our own, our children learn to be more connected to it.

Nature is art, and when we add our own, our children learn to be more connected to it.

With over 100 acres to roam on, curiosity has the space it needs to grow and blossom.

With over 100 acres to roam on, curiosity has the space it needs to grow and blossom.

Eating healthy snacks and sharing stories builds wonder and strength. (Photo by David Johnson)

Eating healthy snacks and sharing stories builds wonder and strength. (Photo by David Johnson)

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Our forest school director, Sara Otis, takes a moment to explore something the kids are already interested in.

Our forest school director, Sara Otis, takes a moment to explore something the kids are already interested in.

Care and compassion are deep values at Knox Forest School.

Care and compassion are deep values at Knox Forest School.

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“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.” -Richard Louv 

At KFS, there is plenty of opportunity to learn risk assessment and build confidence in our physical bodies and minds.

At KFS, there is plenty of opportunity to learn risk assessment and build confidence in our physical bodies and minds.