''The same vital force that is present in animals and plants operates and acts in us, and we are part of the web of life'' - Edward O. Wilson.
As we are a part of nature, needless to say, it's beneficial for us to be in nature. Even if some people live in cities surrounded by buildings and structures, the regular contact with nature and in particular, with the greens of the forest is definitely healthy for our bodies and minds. Finland is the amazing land of lakes and forests, therefore it's wise to take advantage of what forests can generously offer us. There are also lots of scientific studies showing that the potential and the power of walking or exercising constantly and moderately in fresh air has a great advantage on health. Some studies even go deeper and show the power of not only fresh air, but also green trees and plants in making our immune system stronger. It helps in providing an overall calming effect and in improving the mood, reducing the stress, improving the concentration abilities, increasing positive energy, or having the healing and therapeutic effect. Spending time in the forest is especially important for children, beneficial for their health and for their development. These are some of the remarkable advantages of 'living' and 'experiencing' the forest for kids:
Learning and discovering
Forest is full of interesting and fascinating plants and trees, insects and bugs, animals and creatures of all kinds and sizes. And well, kids love adventures, exploring and studying those creatures: some hidden from eyes and hard to reach, some visible, some easy to notice, some need more investigation, some need staring closely at the skin of the trees or at the soil, some need to be followed by the footprints, feathers, hairs, their waste, food they have eaten, holes they have created, activities they have done. To fully comprehend and appreciate the secrets of the forests, it's important to understand the many living creatures that make forests their home and their many interconnected relationships. It's not only fascinating and inspiring for kids but also for adults to learn, discover, explore, and enjoy.
Profound and meaningful
Children who spend time in the forest starts to learn the rules of nature and how the forest works. They then also start to understand that they need to observe well and pay attention closely to the surrounding in nature and what happens around. This leads them to think more deeply and carefully, and to become a wiser and a more thoughtful person regarding practical matters of everyday life.
Respectful and caring
Spending time in the forest and doing various activities there teaches the kids to respect and appreciate the forest and respect all living creatures there. They learn that disturbing the forest can cause damage and disruption for the many animals and plants that live there. This way, they learn to take better care of the environment, and become more caring persons not only towards nature, but also in their social life towards others.
Collaboration and sociability
Children can do various games and activities in the forest, such as questioning, investigating, searching, solving problems, using different materials that forest offers (such as leaves of the trees, branches, stones), looking for answers to their questions, and doing things together with family members and friends. This leads children to be able to work in groups, doing collaborations, and respecting the common and collective choices of the group. They get to learn about the joy of working together in the open fresh air of forest. This is also very beneficial for the social lives of the children, especially at school where better collaboration is definitely needed. It helps kids to enjoy group works too.
Technical goals, building abilities
Forest offers lots of materials that children can play with (such as wood); to do some patchwork or build something out of them. In order to do these, they also need to use different tools, sometimes a hammer, a saw or simply by hand hands and try to assembly, fold or make knots. This gives the children the ability to create and build something either spontaneously or by making their own projects (even if it would be a small project). All these help in their development.