Self-esteem and the outdoors

Emotional Intelligence is…

… the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior

Peter Salovey and John Mayer (

We can think of Emotional Intelligence (EI) as having a good degree of self-awareness, self-regulation and self-motivation. In order to have such a degree of EI you would need some affective social skills and a good amount of empathy, to understand other people’s motivations, needs and desires as well as how your actions (and the actions of others) can have an effect (or not, as the case may be).

The holistic nature of Forest School helps the learner to build a level of consciousness, control and self-regulation of emotions through working with, communicating with and helping others. It can act as a catalyst for self-motivation through being present in an active, social environment based on an equity of opportunity, leadership and choice. There is also plenty of room for the promotion of empathy and the encouragement of compassion through community building: both in a group with other people but also in community with nature by understanding its frailty, its strength and its ecology.

Hopefully, through the development of a community a sense of belonging to something outside of the idea of Me can develop with friendships found in all age groups and of all abilities. One of the gold standards of such a programme could be generating a sense of companionship with fellow people as well as the planet.

Therefore, Forest School is more than the sum of its activities and its tools.

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