Did you know that some elementary schools students learn in the forest once a week, or even every day? Research shows that children learn best when they have freedom of movement, choice, and fresh air that outdoor settings can provide. Programs like Forest Days help schools respond to the research by offering hands-on outdoor learning as part of the regular school day...no matter the weather! (Watch our Forest Days video or contact Susan Chlebowski, Forest Days Mentor/Facilitator, to learn more.)
Our Forest Days model is an outdoor learning program for public school children and their teachers. An ERAFANS facilitator works closely with teachers to lead weekly outdoor experiences directly with children on the school grounds or nearby park. This approach builds in professional development through modeling and allows teachers to learn useful strategies to facilitate outdoor learning. Teachers gain firsthand knowledge about how curricular standards are met through outdoor experiences, including social-emotional development, language and literacy, physical skills, and a range of content standards such as science, math, social studies, and creative arts. Not least of all, participants cultivate environmental literacy, which encourages care for the Earth and one another.
At the conclusion of the program, teachers are confident and well-equipped to continue Forest Days on their own as they cultivate their school's culture towards outdoor learning. School faculty, families, and the local community can all benefit from the positive outcomes of Forest Days.
Unlike most American nature or forest preschools that are private programs, Forest Days branches out to a diverse population of children in urban and rural areas alike. We work closely with public school teachers and administrators to craft a weekly outdoor learning program that works with the nuanced needs of the school community.
Visit Instagram to see photos of Forest Days in action and complete an interest form to explore possibilities at your school.
Forest Days Mission
Forest Days provides ongoing nature-based professional development to public school educators through weekly child-directed, outdoor learning experiences with students.
Forest Days Guiding Principles
“Both the forest and the approach, the whole program we are offering, is about freedom in childhood. Children have the right to follow their own interests and explore the world in a safe and dynamic environment. Children’s movements are so overly controlled in our culture, and this sense of freedom is more and more what’s missing from childhood.”
- Rachel Schwartzman, Founding ERAFANS Forest Days Director
The pilot program in 2018-2019 was offered at a Title 1 public school in the heart of Philadelphia, serving two kindergarten classes and four teachers. We have since expanded to serve two additional elementary schools in Philadelphia. Our Forest Days facilitators lead weekly outdoor learning and exploration in the neighboring wild spaces, either on the school grounds or within walking distance of the school. Program includes direct work with teachers and children, documentation of child-led learning, on-going collaboration with staff in support of curricular goals, parent involvement, and supplemental nature-based teacher training.
We are seeking public school partners to grow Forest Days! Interested? Complete this interest form to see if we can work with you!