Forest Schools, Danish Style

Forest Schools originated in Sweden in the 1950's and spread to other countries, particularly Denmark where they have become an important part of the Danish early years programme.

In a typical Danish Forest School, young children from 3 years are taken into the forest for 4 hours each day of the week. They take no toys with them, but instead use only what the forest provides (and their imaginations) to develop their games. There is a primitive hut in the forest, which is used in extreme weather and where they eat their packed lunches and listen to stories. Activities are child led and fun, such as finding small animals or stomping in puddles. Because of high adult to child ratios, children can safely try out activities which are often considered too dangerous, such as climbing trees or lighting fires, and by dressing the children in good protective clothing, they are able to play freely, sitting and rummaging in mud and undergrowth. By setting children small manageable tasks at which they are unlikely to fail, and giving genuine praise, children's independence and confidence grows.

A Swedish scientific study found that children attending forest school kindergartens are far happier than children in ordinary town kindergartens. The 13 month study followed children from similar backgrounds in two different kindergartens, one in the centre of a city and the other out in the country.

The study concluded that children in the forest school are more balanced and socially capable, have fewer sick days; are more able to concentrate and have better co-ordination than the city nursery children.

The result showed the forest school children to be markedly better at concentrating than the city children. The primary reason appeared to be the greater opportunities for play in nature, so that children play for longer at a time, tending not to disturb each other as much as children in the city nursery. The study observed that where children were interrupted, they became irritable, their stress level rose, and their ability to concentrate fell. When they could not concentrate there was a clear tendency to selfish and inconsiderate behaviour and aggression. The forest school children were much more considerate towards each other.

The study also showed that the forest school children had 25% fewer sick days than the city children. One reason for this is that the air is nearly always better outside than indoors. Outside a child is not so exposed to virus and bacteria and not so likely to be infected by other children. Another reason may be that, since stress has been shown to have a negative effect on the immune system, high stress levels may be weakening the city children.

The forest school children, on the other hand are in a pleasant, natural, fun and less stressful environment.

Read about a typical day at the Secret Garden, one of the UK's first Scandinavian Style Nurseries here, reprinted with kind permission of nursery founder Cathy Bache.


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Kathy from Ellingham School - Ocean Trousers, Ocean Adult Jackets and Trousers, Togz Warm & Dry Suits

Just a quick email to say everything has been received today and I am so impressed with the quality – far superior than we have bought before – we will be replacing other items as they wear out, with yours ! 

[followed later by] Just to let you know that all the waterproofs have now been worn and we are so impressed !  We went out with another school that bought theirs from you nearly 10 years ago, and they are still going strong !! 

Emma from St Peters school bought Scandinavian Dungarees.

Proof that learning can be fun!
Having just received the dungarees the children in the Forest School group were exploring the woods. They found a 'secret den' amongst the twisted trunks of a clump of laurel bushes. They could not resist the branches and straight away they began a game of playing at being monkeys jumping in the branches. This lasted for about 20 mins - was very noisy, and thoroughly enjoyable for everyone concerned!! (they even learnt that wet branches were slippery and you couldn't climb them and small branches snapped off if you stood on them, fortunately in the fun of it all no-one was really hurt!).

Thanks again for the dungarees. They are fantastic! The children absolutely love wearing them and it has made our Forest School sessions so much easier, both getting ready, as they each now know which colour (size) they wear and knowing that they will not have to worry about getting wet clothing. The fabric seems remarkably strong and has so far stood up to climbing trees and scrambling about in the woods! Thank you as well for the speed of service. They arrived Monday morning after a Friday order - brilliant, which meant they could wear them when a visiting assessor came to inspect our Forest School session - they were very impressed. thank - you again.

Joyce from Kilmodan Primary School bought Scandinavian Dungarees

Thank you. Great waterproofs already tested in the Botanical gardens on Tuesday in torrential rain and forest school on Wednesday.

Claire from- Woodlands Infant School bought Ocean Suits

Thank you so much for your help with pushing this order through quickly, it has been a pleasure dealing with you.

Farzana from The House That Jack Built Day Nurseries bought Puddle suits

I have received the order this morning. I am delighted with the quality of the product.

Thank you for you efficient service.

Alison from Thameside Nursery - Scandinavian Ocean Suits (5 years after previously purchasing our Scandinavian Kiba suits)

The Ocean 2 piece suits look great, and they don’t appear to be that different from the Kiba suits. We have certainly had our use out of them!!! Now we have babies, we so want them to enjoy the outdoors as much as our older children do. We couldn’t live without our waterproofs!!!

Geoff from Kendal - Scandinavian Suit & Trousers

We like the waterproofs we buy from you because they are genuinely waterproof. The welded seams and waterproof material work much better than your average proofed nylon/taped seams garment.  We are in the Lake District and enjoy the outdoors. We need our waterproofs to work.

Carole from Cairns Nursery - Scandinavian dungarees

As my staff let you know yesterday we are keen to stick with the quality we know and now we have different colours for different age groups/ sizes of children.  Thanks for your help once again.

Shakiba from Salford Nursery - bought Togz All in One suits

I am just enquiring about the wet weather suits for my toddlers at my nursery setting. We previously purchased a big order back in 2009 and they have been a great success. I wanted to know if you do still do the suits and of any changes they have occurred over the years.

Mrs H from Newton Aycliffe School - Regatta Puddle Suits

We recently purchased a Regatta all in one. My head teacher and I were very impressed with the quality of the garment and would like to make a further purchase. I would be grateful if you could send the order to school as soon as possible - I'm running out of dry clothes to put my soggy children in :)

Helen from Manchester Primary School bought Scandinavian Dungarees

Thank you. The waterproofs arrived last Friday and will be in action after Easter. I have lots of photos so will try to organise and send you some. We use them a lot for Forest School. They are hard wearing and really easy to use and wash up really well. The children like them because they look like fire fighters!!!!

Cheryl from Scottish Outdoor Nursery - Waterproof World Waders

I own an outdoor children's nursery in Scotland. As our children spend the majority of their time outdoors in woodland spaces they need to be attired appropriately. Over the last 3 years we have seen children dressed in a variety of different waterproofs and we have found for the wet Scottish climate that those who stay driest are the children who wear your waders.

Jan from New Tredegar Primary bought Scandinavian Suits

The suits are wonderful! The children love them and they love going outside to play and learn in all sorts of weather. We had an inspection three weeks ago and midway though that week we had a heavy fall of snow. We abandoned our planned activities, put on the suits and went out to play! We are now ordering more suits for our year 1 and year 2 classes.

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