“The Forest School” by Pascale d’Erm: the benefits of outdoor schools

What might children learn if they spent more time in nature as part of their education? Pascale d’Erm investigated the whole questionoutdoor learning and open schools for book writing Forest school, recently published in France. Reconnection with the living world, well-being, cooperation, emotion management, learning, physical activity: the benefits are numerous and intriguing to fill the gap in nature.

“General principlesoutdoor learning and for forest schools — open schools — is a global learning experience,” explains Pascale d’Erm in an email interview.

“The child is taken into account with his physical, emotional and intellectual dimensions, immersion (flow learning) during this period, the child is given time and space to develop creativity, learn through movement, which allows the child to avoid long sitting days when the brain cannot perform its role properly.

He adds that the innovation and originality of this pedagogy is based on the concept of “head, heart, hands” learning. “The head symbolizing cognition, the heart evoking sensitivity, emotions or attachment to nature, and the hands expressing movement, implementation of children’s projects.”

According to him, all school subjects can be taught outside.

“Languages ​​by reading outside or walking around reciting poetry; mathematics by counting the elements of nature, working on the geometry of the shapes of plants and minerals; by studying geography and history in place close school environments. Sports, let’s not talk about it, it’s obvious. Research shows that exercising indoors or outdoors does not have the same effect on mental health and regeneration…”

Forest school

Photo courtesy of Éditions La Plage

Children respond very well to this form of learning.

“The children’s parents, the children themselves, as well as the teachers, whose testimonies I have collected, are completely unanimous in awakening the taste for freedom developed by the choice of free play, as well as the fact of cooperating with others, helping each other to help each other. activities that they also enjoy very much.”

The formula helps to develop self-confidence, trust in others, attachment to nature.

“We also note that overall, in addition to endurance, physical health, autonomy, respect for nature, improvement…”

Lack of nature

In the book, Pascale d’Erm talks about nature deficiency syndrome. This is manifested in the increase of hyperactivity syndrome in children, concentration problems, infobesity (spending time in front of the screen), overweight and problems related to type 2 diabetes (related to lifestyle).

Benefitsoutdoor learning important for both physical and mental health of young people.

“Hundreds of studies conducted since the 1980s in Northern European countries where these forests have developed confirm that going outside of school improves physical health, body confidence, immunity (children get sick less), but also mental and emotional development. , self-confidence, ability to cooperate, problem solving, stress management.

in Lac-Saint-Jean

In her book, Pascale d’Erm provides several examples from outdoor schools in Europe and Canada. In Lac-Saint-Jean, he gives the floor to Jean Gaudreault, who has experience in this field.outdoor learning the average level.

“I think this institution was very fortunate to have benefited from Jean Gaudreault’s initiatives, vision, tenacity and infectious enthusiasm. This is a success in terms of voluntary participation.”

“This example also makes me dream through immersion in ‘total awareness’ – a forest bathing experience or Shinrin Yoku in Japanese — made possible by the proximity of the magnificent forest massifs…I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I saw the pictures!”


In nature, children find freedom, fantasy, intimacy in a place different from the world of adults that belongs to them. A separate peace. As they say, “nature is where there are roots, it is beautiful and it keeps us alive…” I believe that this very simple definition is at the root of the forest school.»

– Pascale d’Erm, Editions La Plage

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