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A holistic approach to child development attempts to address all aspects of a child’s development and growth simultaneously. This leads to a better understanding of why a child behaves in a particular way. In order to achieve this it is important to create an open and free environment where children’s natural intelligence is developed and encouraged; an environment that encourages natural curiosity and a love of nature; that encourages children to develop a sense of responsibility and to problem solve and ask questions.This is just the type of environment that is created by Forest School.
Using either the PILESS: (Physical, Intellectual, Language (i.e. communication), Emotional, Social and Spiritual) or SPICES (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Communication, Emotional and Spiritual) methodology when planning, can ensure that sessions support this holistic development.
This holistic approach is perhaps best seen when applied to a particular activity. In this instance the activity started when the leader silenced the group and led them on a mysterious and circuitous route through the woods to a bush with strands of wool draped over it. This, he explained, was the breath of the Choo-
Using the SPICES methodology you can see how all aspects of development were covered by this activity.
Social – supporting others, working collaboratively and in a team, self-
Physical – movement, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, using different muscle groups.
Intellectual – story telling vocabulary, design and building of structures, imagination, decision making, thinking skills, problem solving, independence.
Communication – creative expression, decision making, eye contact when making friendship bracelet, listening skills, story telling vocabulary, non verbal communication.
Emotional – individual points of view respected, sense of achievement raises self-
Spiritual – beauty of nature, individual points of view and belief, community ethos.
How Forest Schools can support an individual’s holistic development and learning