Guiding Principles of Forest and Nature School Canada (FNSC)

When implementing Forest and Nature School Canada programs, we are committed to upholding the principles outlined in the Forest and Nature School Canada: A Head, Heart, Hands Approach to Outdoor Learning document.

Forest and Nature School:

  • is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in the same natural space (local forests, creeks, meadows, prairie grasses, mountains, shorelines, tundra, natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms).
  • takes place regularly, ideally at least every other week, with the same group of learners, over an extended period of time encompassing the seasons.
  • is rooted in building an on-going relationship to place and on principles of place-based or land-based education.
  • follows the renewing pedagogical cycles of observation, emergent research and pedagogical documentation.
  • has a structure which is based on the observations and collaborative work between learners and practitioners.
  • acknowledges that First Nations, Inuit and Metis were learning and living on these lands long before our arrival.
  • is rooted in and supports building engaged, healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities.
  • aims to promote the holistic development of children and youth.
  • views children and youth as competent and capable learners.
  • supports children and youth, with supportive and knowledgeable educators, to identify, co-manage and navigate risk.
  • requires qualified Forest and Nature School practitioners who are rooted in and committed to FNSC pedagogical theory and practical skills.
  • requires that educators play the role of facilitator rather than expert.
  • uses loose, natural materials to support open-ended experiences.
  • values the process of learning as much as the outcome.
  • requires that educators utilize emergent, experiential, inquiry-based, play-based, and place-based learning approaches.
  • advocates that programs constantly monitor their ecological impact and work within a sustainable site management plan agreed upon by the forest school practitioner and the learners.
  • follows high ratio of practitioner/adults to learners.
  • is backed by relevant working documents, which contain all the policies and procedures required for running FNSC and which establish the roles and responsibilities of staff and volunteers.
  • encourages practitioners to model the pedagogy, which is promoted during the FNSC program through careful planning, appropriate dialogue and relationship building.
  • believes that play and choice are an integral part of the learning process, and play is recognized as vital to learning and development.
  • provides a stimulus for all learning styles, preferences and dispositions.