Taking advantage of the Stimulating Green Environment for Non-Formal Learning with Children with Cognitive Disabilities and Learning Disorders
Scientific review: Human health and Sustainable Forest Management
18. September 2019
Forest Pedagogy & PRO SILVA 30th anniversary meeting in Slovenia 2019
15. October 2019
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Scientific review: Taking advantage of the Stimulating Green Environment for Non-Formal Learning with Children with Cognitive Disabilities and Learning Disorders

Authors: Urša Vilhar et al.*, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Slovenia


P laying and learning in forest and nature stimulates the imagination, creativity and entrepreneurship. Besides, nature is a great place to gain experience for the development of social and motor skills. The positive impact of a green learning environment is even more significant when working with children with mental disabilities, learning disorders, attention disabilities (such as ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders. In an informal natural environment, these children learn better than in a classroom. A green learning environment therefore increases their chances in society meaningfully.

We present the results of the ERASMUS+ co-funded project “Green Learning Environments – Taking advantage of the Stimulating Green Environment for Non-Formal Learning with Children with Cognitive Disabilities and Learning Disorders”. In this project six specialised schools and four organisations working with environmental education (BOS+ from Belgium, Merseyforest from UK, Slovenian Forestry Institute and Institute for forest pedagogics from Slovenia) exchanged knowledge, collected and tested non-formal learning activities in the nature for children with special education needs.

The results of the project include a comprehensive Toolbox, developed and tested during the project for teachers and educators with 18 activities including useful pictures, pictograms and examples for more inspiration. With this Toolbox, teachers and educators are provided with a very useful resource to maximize the benefits of forest, greenery and nature as an informal and powerful learning environment for children with special education needs. The Toolbox is freely available in Slovenian, Dutch and English language. There is also an Appendix with useful pictograms, pictures and examples for more inspiration.

The Toolbox is accompanied by a detailed Pedagogical Approach which contains background information about the advantages of a green learning environment for children with special educational needs. In addition, a Good Practices Database was established and a Policy Brief was summarised with practical recommendations for policymakers, stakeholders, teachers and educators as well as organisations working with environmental education.

References
https://www.bosplus.be/nl/educatieve-projecten/green-learning-environments-eng https://www.bosplus.be/nl/green-learning-environments https://www.bosplus.be/nl/educatieve-projecten/green-learning-environments/green-learning-environments-slo

*Authors:
GLE project team: Sefton Booth, Bluebell Park School, United Kingdom
Alyson Boothroyd, Bluebell Park School, United Kingdom
Sien Cromphout, BOS+, Belgium
Jan Čibej, Special School Ljubo Šercer Kočevje, Slovenia
Gudrun De Grauwe, Sint Gregorius Buitengewoon Basisonderwijs, Belgium
Rik De Vreese, European Forest Institute (EFI Bonn)
Valerija El Habashy, Special School Ljubo Šercer Kočevje, Slovenia
Natalija Györek, Institute for Forest Pedagogics, Slovenia
Eveline Heyndrickx, Sint Gregorius Buitengewoon Basisonderwijs, Belgium
Nika Košmelj, Special School Jela Janežiča Škofja Loka, Slovenia
Špela Planinšek, Slovenian Forestry Institute, Slovenia
Saša Vohl, Krajinski park Tivoli, Rožnik Šišenski hrib, Slovenia
Lynne Ledgard, Green Lane Community Special School, United Kingdom
Vesna More, Special School Jela Janežiča Škofja Loka, Slovenia
Paul Nolan, The Mersey Forest, United Kingdom
Kristien Ooms, BOS+, Brussels, Belgium
Jožica Pečnik, Special School Ljubo Šercer Kočevje, Slovenia
Gregor Podviz, Special School Jela Janežiča Škofja Loka, Slovenia
Jo Sayers, The Mersey Forest, United Kingdom
Marjeta Šmid, Special School Jela Janežiča Škofja Loka, Slovenia
Terry King, Green Lane Community Special School, United Kingdom
Veerle Claeys, Sint Gregorius Buitengewoon Basisonderwijs, Belgium
Jan Verhavert, MPIGO Heemschool 1, Brussels, Belgium
Jef De Vroe, MPIGO Heemschool 1, Brussels, Belgium