After an initial skepticism, the number of primary and secondary forest schools, both private and public, is now growing.
“Forest schools,” as they’re known, started in Denmark in the 1950s. Their presence has grown all over the world and are now becoming more popular also in Italy, historically much more conservative when it comes to education. In addition to private schools, even the public system is becoming aware of the advantages offered by outdoor education.
Ostia is home to one of the first forest schools in Italy. With a kindergarten and a primary school, from 2018 they started secondary school classes students, probably the only example in the country.
The public school of Sassetta, a small Tuscan mountain village, was on the virge of be shut down due to low enrollments. Since 2017 they started a special outdoor program, taking children into the forest twice a week. Parents approved the change and more children have been enrolled this year. “Our grandparents used to make a living from wood products,” says Donella. “Now the forest has saved our school.”
Classes in the small primary school of Nemi take place in a self-built yurt. The children playground runs along the 2000 years old ruins of the Temple of Diana. Archeology and natural sciences are in the everyday curriculum of the children.