‘The world is your oyster’: Mothers’ perspectives on the value and purpose of an independent Forest School provision

Samantha Friedman*, Linda Allin, William Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Time in nature, including in organised settings like Forest Schools, is associated with a range of benefits for child development. Parents are typically the facilitators or enablers of these nature-based experiences, particularly for those activities taking place outside of the traditional school environment. In this study, we sought to ascertain the perspectives of one group of parents, all mothers, who chose to send their children to an independent Forest School provision in England. Using semi-structured interviews, analysed using reflexive thematic analysis, we developed findings to reflect why these mothers chose to engage their children with Forest School, the value they believe is associated with their child’s participation in this programme, and the ways that this has influenced their parenting approach and family more broadly. Participants were motivated to seek out Forest School for their children based on their own experiences in childhood and their current interests in nature. For many of the mothers, such as several who home educate their children, Forest School embodied values they believed were important for both education and shaping child development. Finally, participants shared that Forest School provided their children, especially those with additional support needs, novel autonomy and compassion they did not find in other children’s groups. Independent Forest School provisions could be an important way of enabling parents to support their children’s development in a manner that aligns with their own values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalChildren's Geographies
Early online date27 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2024

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