The Wildlings Forest School Philosophy

"Not all classrooms have four walls"


The Wildlings Forest School ethos has drawn inspiration from the general principles of education in Finland. Our program has been designed around  5 key pillars:  Well-being, Belonging, Autonomy, Mastery and Mindset.  

The Wildlings Forest School mission is to inspire students to develop their skills and knowledge about nature so that they connect with nature, connect with themselves, connect with their peers, connect with their teachers and connect their families on a holistic and naturalist level. The Wildlings Leaders share the mindset that nature is the best school and that students will be at their best in nature.  We know our enthusiasm will inspire our students to feel the same. The Wildlings Forest School program has been created by a team of experienced leaders and is in compliance with the Ontario Curriculum standards.

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Image by Sandie Clarke
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Well-being

When children are outdoors on a regular basis, for extended periods of time, they experience a new environment each day because nature changes from one day to the next.  Being outdoors encourages students to ground themselves in nature, connect with nature and recognize that they are part of a much larger world.  When students are outdoors every day, they become more curious and adventurous and they engage in regular physical activity.  At the Wildlings Forest school, we believe in teaching students that everyone blooms at their own pace.  

Belonging

At  The Wildlings Forest School we believe that a class is like a second family where we take care of each other, learn together, and have fun together. Leaders at The Wildlings Forest School place great value in developing a deep and meaningful relationship with students. A strong relationship with their students means that leaders develop engaging and effective programing centered on students’ interests and learning styles. Also mirroring the Finnish school style, The Wildlings Forest School focuses on fostering cooperation over competition by inculcating the skills of teamwork, collaboration and team spirit in students. At The Wildlings Forest School we use nature as a catalyst to foster these skills through activities ranging from building shelters or building fires to cooking meals together.  Fostering a close knit sense of community is an underlying theme of many of the activities we facilitate. 

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Autonomy

The Wildlings Forest School  has always valued giving students freedom and choice.   We offer the students choices throughout the day, balancing the need to give students the  time and space to learn things for themselves with appropriate safety measures and guidance. Students practice taking care of their own outdoor gear, take turns leading hikes, and host a Fika-inspired gathering emphasizing mindfulness and hospitality.  The Wildling Forest students are in small groups and spend most of their days outdoors so young students naturally develop autonomy, self-reliance and independence.

Mastery

At The Wildlings Forest School we believe that creating a strong base of social, emotional and academic skills is an essential foundation for students’ learning. With a strong foundation,  students are confident in their abilities to master new skills.   Students are given the time and scope to build the best foundation and basics at their own pace. We focus on developing emotional coping strategies, ways of communicating feelings, and core academic skills. At the Wildlings Forest School we believe that student success in academic skills is greatly enhanced by learning a variety of social and emotional skills coping strategies such as mindful breathwork, meditation, reframing, and talking it out.  These strategies are inextricably linked to students’ academic success and support them having a better quality of life and self confidence.

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Mindset

At The Wildlings Forest School we seek a flow. We practice optimizing energy levels - if students have a lot of energy we can go on a hike and explore and learn as we are moving. If students are feeling that  they need down time or to refocus we can take time to meditate and reconnect with ourselves and nature. Students are taught to be resilient and persevere through everything Mother Nature offers, whether it be muddy and rainy days, hot, sunny days or crisp winter mornings. We believe in slowing down and learning from observing nature as well as taking time to partake in daily rituals such as talking stick time,  cozy story times and end of day reflections. We believe there should be joy in the process of learning!