Naperville’s Free Forest School

Running, climbing, and throwing rocks might not be acceptable in a traditional classroom, but in this one, it’s encouraged.

Naperville’s free forest school hosted its first meeting in Pioneer Park, and the kids were in a hurry to start exploring nature.

The school trusts the children to drive their own learning through their innate curiosity, bridging the gap between learning and playtime.

“You get to say what’s interesting,” said Free Forest School Organizer Rachel Glisson. “You get to decide what you want to explore with your friends that day. Do they want to be with friends or do they want to just go off on their own?”

Many parents believe letting a child learn through play is even more effective than traditional instruction-based learning.

“I love that concept because in this day and age, there’s a lot of control most of the time around children and what they get to do and what they don’t get to do,” said Katie Fabes, a mom at the event. “So letting them be free in nature and explore is really good for them.”

The Naperville Free Forest School meets every Monday at Pioneer Park. Keeping the location the same is an important element in the long-term goals of the group.

“The idea with free forest school is that you meet at the same spot so you get to see how nature changes,” said Glisson. “As it gets colder, as it gets warmer, what blooms, what dies, what grows? How does the river change, how does wildlife along the river change so they get to see nature evolve on their own.”

One of the organization’s main goals is “to foster the next generation of environmental stewards”.

And they’re doing just that – giving kids a closer look at the world around them.

For more information on Chicagoland Free Forest Schools, check out their Facebook page.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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