Holistic Benefits of Nature-Ally Learning

Connecting to nature, ourselves and our community,  is something every human needs, in order to grow and thrive. Traditional school systems offer much in the way of academia, but often fail to meet the need for movement, play time outdoors, and an authentic connection with peers. 

Over the last 15 years, the relationship between children and nature has been all but lost.  There is a correlation between that decline, and a society that focuses on measurable productivity. The absence of freedom in play contributes to an inability to focus  in the classroom, or cope with the day to day stressors of life.


Childhood is a time in our lives allocated for being present in our environment, and connecting to loved ones. However, children’s play is being displaced with things known to have adverse effects on our mental and physical health. Time is spent escaping the present, and tech outlets are being utilized as a coping tool.  We can bring that sedentary time to more balance with unstructured, sensory rich experiences, that provide  healthier coping tools, healthier relationships, and stewardship of the land.

 “Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would place them at the top of any conservationists list of endangered species if they were any other species in the animal kingdom.”  Tim Gill 


I would be remiss not to mention the impact of the global pandemic. Children have an unprecedented need for social engagement, along with unstructured time outdoors, in order to build emotional resilience. After years of isolation, restriction and collective anxiety, we must tend to these impacts with meaningful connection to self, others and the natural world.


Childhood in our culture has been altered, with an increase in stress, and a search for identity/belonging. 

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security come before all else. The need for social connection is a close second. Without this foundation,  the journey of cognitive learning and personal growth is much more challenging, if not  impossible.


Nature-Ally Learning has a strong focus on building the foundation of these needs, as a way to aid children’s schooling. Whether the child has been in the public school system or homeschooled, evidence suggests that the supplemental holistic benefits of Forest School are vital to the child’s ability to focus on their academics and retain the lessons taught in more formal instruction. 

-Leah Smith

Forest School Practitioner/

Early Childhood Educator

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