First School Forest Study at Quiet Waters Park

First School Forest Study at Quiet Waters Park

Once a month, each of our First School classes takes a field trip to Quiet Waters Park to conduct a forest study. The forest study is an interdisciplinary program in that there are scientific learning goals as well as goals for social/emotional development. According to First School science teacher Mary Mix, “Research has proven that being out in nature increases students' attention and concentration. Being outdoors has positive impacts on mental health by lowering stress and anxiety levels and increasing serotonin levels.”

As scientists in the forest, students are encouraged to engage in discussions on what they see, hear, touch and smell. They observe the seasonal environmental changes and learn about the natural environment from the plants, water flow, animals, land structures, and life cycles they notice.

To develop their social/emotional skills, unstructured observations and exploration is key to building the sense of wonder, questioning and excitement that we hope to instill in all of our students. They are taking risks and building confidence in their own physical abilities on the wide variety of landscapes such as hills, valleys and fallen trees.

Ms. Mix notes, “As adults, it is easy to fall into the mentality that we need to tell children where to step, how to move, and when to do things. In the forest, it is important that we take on the role of guide rather than leader and give the students the freedom to accomplish these goals.” 

The forest study program will continue through the winter and spring allowing students to observe and learn from the forest as it changes through the seasons.