F orest pedagogy and sustainable development in pre-school and primary school education is the main idea of the project known under the acronym „LESPED“, supported by Slovak Research and Development Agency. Project is carried out by the Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (UKF) in cooperation with the National Forest Centre in Zvolen, Slovakia.
Realization of the project has started in July 2019 and its main objective is to develop and verify the Forest Pedagogy model in the frame of pre-primary and primary education with special attention to natural science topics coming from the State Educational Program in Slovakia.
The model focuses on the education of kindergartens and younger school age pupils, while strengthening the competences of kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers, school club teachers and forest pedagogues. Emphasis is placed on the philosophy of education and didactic possibilities of forest pedagogy.
The main objective of the project is to develop, test and verify the model of forest pedagogy and to seek implementation of forest pedagogy in school facilities and families. The purpose is to increase the interest of preschool children and younger school age pupils in the natural environment, to develop their skills and literacy in nature through activation methods used by forest pedagogues directly in natural forest areas. At the same time, the project is aimed at raising environmental awareness, popularizing forest pedagogy among teaching staff and the general public, and promoting the idea of an active lifestyle and spending leisure time in family education.
The project output will be the results application not only to pre-primary and primary education, but also to undergraduate and postgraduate preparation/education of teachers and forest pedagogues. Within the project will be developed specialized methodological material of Forest Pedagogy for pedagogical staff (teachers, educators), special educational material for forest pedagogues and textbooks for university students as well.
Forest-oriented educational program divided into fourth topics, developed by forest pedagogues from National Forest Centre Zvolen, are continuously tested by them in kindergartens and primary schools in four Slovak towns during the project. So far, two programs have been carried out - Christmas Tree from the Forest and Forest in Silence, attended by approximately 300 children from kindergartens and primary school pupils in towns Zvolen, Nitra, Hlohovec and Kremnica. Both programs attracted not only children but also teachers. Soon there will be two more programs prepared - Forest Hidden in a Book and Forest Olympics - which are expected to be implemented as soon as possible.
The results of research findings during the project will enrich pedagogical science which includes pre-school education, school education, university education, family and after-school education. All results will be summarized in a monograph and anthology from the conclusions of the international conference at the end of the project in 2022
The innovation of educational and didactic practice by means of activities provided by forest pedagogues is an important benefit of the project. The activities will significantly increase environmental awareness and enhance education to sustainable development.
This project is the first in the field of forest pedagogy, where application research is also carried out in cooperation with the pedagogues and educational community at all, which we see as a great benefit not only for Slovakia but also for the international level.