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Forest schools in India | Learn about nature, naturally: All you need to know

Forest schools in India | Learn about nature, naturally: All you need to know

Forest schools in India | Learn about nature, naturally: All you need to know
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By Sanhita Baruah  Nov 11, 2022 3:18:12 PM IST (Updated)

The concept of nature education or Gurukul has been predominant in India, wherein students lived on school premises and did all chores to maintain the place. They have had to serve the Guru to learn everything they needed to know. The forest schools in India, have similar principles for children, where they can learn about nature, naturally.

The best way to learn something is by experiencing it. And if you go by history. There is no better teacher than nature. Mother nature as been the biggest teacher for mankind. Since the days of the first humans, we have had a profound connection with nature and all that we know today is because of the discoveries and explorations of our ancestors amidst nature. Cut to now, we live in concrete jungles and learn from digital screens. But, what if we told you that there are places in India for adults and children to live amid nature and learn from it? Read on for an exciting journey to learn about nature, naturally.

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Forest schools for children: a ‘not-so-novel’ concept
Right from the early days, the concept of Gurukul has been predominant in India, wherein students lived on school premises and did all chores to maintain and upkeep the place. They had to serve the place and the Guru to learn everything they needed to know. They went out to the woods to collect firewood, prepared food, built structures to safeguard their schools and maintained greenery on the premises and learnt their craft well. The forest schools in India, have similar principles for children.
What do children do and learn at a forest school
Children’s learning is decentralised and they learn from all their senses. Children engage in team activities like building a structure, gardening together, supervised risky activities like safe trekking, foraging, shelter building etc, where they use different tools, learn from each other, make way for creativity and inculcate social skills.
Activities like tree climbing, scavenger hunts, sensory walks and woodwork activate the kinesthetic sense of the children and enhance their mind and body coordination. They become more agile, aware of the environment around and develop a fondness towards Nature that has given them so much to enjoy. They also tend to develop an affinity towards fellow humans and learn to take care of one another in times of danger.
Apart from the Nature-led learning, these schools also are affiliated to the state/ central boards that allow their children to equip themselves like their peers in other schools.
Some examples of Forest school for children are:
1. Nature School India Paramarth Awadhawan , Uttaranchal
Located in Uttaranchal, the school focuses on integrated learning, joining hands with the environment and academia. Living one with Nature paves way for a stronger connection with the environment, responsibility to be sustainable and take care of the surroundings follows when children quality time with Nature. This school ensures plenty of outdoor activities for children that go hand in hand with the environment.
2. Vidya Vaanam, Tamil Nadu
The school is a unique venture in itself. It houses students of deep villages, provides a holistic learning experience amidst Nature, as children engage in various forest related activities, exploration as part of their daily routine. Teachers are from nearby places and in some cases from other countries as well. Children are taught in Tamil and English, so as to prepare them to face the outside world. Children up to the age of 14 have a curriculum completely designed to make them one with nature. These kids are sure to have a rich and amazing childhood to look back to.
Forest school for adults: Sadhana forest
Sadhana forest is a NGO that hosts volunteers from all over the world to come together for a common cause, engage in the common pursuit of afforestation of the 70 acre forest and together strive for a greener environment.
Although the aim of the organisation is such, it makes for an amazing forest school for an average Indian adult who has not had any previous interactions with Nature. Anyone, of any age can come and reside in Sadhana forest for any number of days, while only paying for their food and accommodation.
The residents, in groups, stay in a beautiful eco-friendly accommodation that has various rapport building activities indoor and outdoor. All things used in the property is eco-friendly and no single use plastic is tolerated here.
Together, people of all age groups and ethnicities come together to perform the following activities for enhancing the greenery of the place:
  • Plant saplings and seeds in huge numbers together, thereby managing practical woodland together
  • Build water trenches and dams for the water bodies nearby
  • Engage with the people of neighbouring villages
  • Build shelters
  • Cook together
  • These activities not only benefit the environment, they also offer numerous benefits to adults, like:
    • Increased awareness of self and surroundings
    • Deepened concern towards environment
    • Mindfulness and complete relaxation
    • Detox from the mundane world
    • Rekindling the inner creative child within every adult
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