Letting kids be kids, outdoors.

We envision a generation of bold explorers with meaningful connections to self, community, and the natural world.

Free Forest School ignites children’s innate capacity to learn through unstructured play in nature. Through collaborations with parent leaders, child care providers, educators, schools and civic leaders, we find innovative ways to enable child-directed play and outdoor exploration for many children who otherwise would not experience the natural world.

 

 

Core Values

CHILDREN ARE INNATELY CURIOUS AND DRIVEN TO LEARN.

Through play, children learn to navigate relationships and make sense of the world.

Children who are trusted to direct their own learning grow into curious and engaged lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and innovators.

CHILDHOOD CAN BE SIMPLE AND FULL OF WONDER.

Childhood can become cluttered with toys, products, and structured activities.

The natural setting maximizes children’s freedom and ability to explore independently; imagination, creativity, and collaboration flourish.

IN NATURE, CHILDREN OF ALL ABILITIES CAN LEARN AND THRIVE.

Daily rituals provide a safe and predictable structure.

Each child is free to explore, play, and connect with others in their own way.

CHILDREN WHO PLAY IN NATURE WILL GROW UP TO LOVE AND DEFEND IT.

Exploring in nature supports the development of each child’s innate sense of wonder.

Children who are intimately connected to nature see its essential value for humans and the planet.

PARENTS HAVE A VITAL ROLE AS PROTECTORS OF CHILDREN’S PLAY.

Parents and caregivers are the first and best teachers.

Parenting is fun and rewarding when we focus on doing less, relying on our intuition and love, and supporting one another.

CHILDREN GAIN PRIDE AND INDEPENDENCE WHEN TRUSTED AND EMPOWERED.

Through exploration and discovery in the natural world, children are active participants in their learning process.

Risky and adventurous play experiences give children opportunities to assess risk and develop independence.

The role of parents at Free Forest School is very intentional. We use a “lightest touch” approach: the idea that, if you do need to intervene, you do so in the lightest way you can, to preserve the children’s autonomy – their imagination, their interactions with one another – rather than adding an adult agenda.

– Anna Sharratt in an October 2017 interview by Dr. Marti Erickson on Mom Enough

Listen to the interview
Search groups

Search groups

Find a Free Forest School group in your area – join for free and get out exploring!

View current locations
Start a Group

Start a Group

Find out what it takes to start a new group or bring emergent learning to your curriculum.

Tell Me More
Keep in touch

Keep in touch

Sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter, Seedlings, and access gear discounts from our sponsors.

Sign up

Free Forest School Blog

Empowering parents & caregivers to open the door to nature play.

Beyond Babywearing: Why Newborns Belong at Free Forest School

Published on February 16, 2018

By Katherine Wilcox Dudley There may be a sentiment that children will get more out…

Read More

Splashing and Singing: What can children learn from playing in the rain?

Published on February 8, 2018

By Sheila Williams-Ridge, member of the FFS Startup Council Editor’s Note: Weather is often a…

Read More

RIE Principles for Parenting in Nature

Published on January 30, 2018

Editor’s Note: FFS doesn’t promote any particular parenting philosophy or method, the RIE parenting method echoes so…

Read More

Why I love Free Forest School (and you should too!)

Published on January 18, 2018

Twin Cities facilitator Tracy Whitney shared her love for Free Forest School with Conservation Minnesota…

Read More