How does Forest School promotes appropriate risk taking and how would this impact learning and development?
In Forest School, the safety of the learners and community is the most important component of the program.
However, being able to give the learners the opportunity to experience risk, and making decision on how they are going to face and handle it, has a greater benefit to their well-being and level of competency.
These will impact their learning and development throughout their lives.
To make these 2 seemingly opposite factors possible in a Forest School programs, we have to undergo strict Risk-Benefit Assessment Analysis and Safety Assessment, in area such as the Environment, Tools, Activities and Personnel.
When the assessment and analysis have been done, the program will then be able to introduce appropriate situations and challenges for learners to face the risk, and deal with the consequence of a missed step or fall.
An example would be the selection of the Forest School play area. In Forest School Singapore, the intermediate location, Pandan Loop, was selected after a few rounds of assessment. One of its risk-benefit element, is the possibilities for learners to come across challenges where they need to climb across logs or little hills and face the risk of falls.
The ground that learners would fall onto, are cusioned vegetated landings, especially in the off-trail routes, due to the touch-friendly growth and characteristic of the plants, which makes the outcome of the fall, safe, but yet not losing that element of risk and consequence.
Now if the learner were to do climb and fall in the same manner, onto a concrete ground in an urban setting, the result, is definitely much more painful. (That I would vouch for, citing first-hand experience)
Risk Taking is an exciting experience for learners, in Forest School adventures and exploration in the forest environment, learners get to overcome challenges based on their own capability, these greatly enhance their confidence of their own learning, adaptation and skills.