Forest School As A Benchmark for Reconciling Past Knowledge with Present and Future Learning

Grow Forest School Noosa Valley is collaborating with Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators and artisans in creating and delivering holistic nature education programs in the environment. Programs are designed for children in the early and primary years, and focus on sustainable life skills based in deep Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge as common grounds for innovation and reconciliation.

The school’s site in Doonan offers rich biodiversity. What used to be a tree farm some decades ago, has now grown into a dense forest with pockets of micro climates and various species and habitats. A bush regeneration project is in place, where land is being regenerated and native bush and forest are replanted. The site has also wet habitats, open fields and a permaculture farm. The natural farm features papaya and banana plantations, native and non-native edible gardens and mobile chicken coops as soil building systems. Its biodiversity and many natural features, makes the site a rich environment for forest school learning.

Indigenous Component

Learning at Grow Forest School occurs by exploring the natural world and by practicing Indigenous and ancestral skills through open ended hands-on activities and nature play. Students engage in processes of making and creating things based on cultural deep knowledge and skills that are relevant to present and future but are grounded in the past. The main learning space in the forest, or ‘the village’ has been designed as a traditional Aboriginal campsite with Gunyas (Aboriginal shelters) serving as activity and play pods. The campsite also features a fire pit and a sharing circle and has direct access to the natural farm. 

Grow Forest School programs get children involved in skill building activities. Workshops include weaving and thatching Aboriginal shelters, edible garden care, compost making, creating with cob (earth clay), nature crafts and nature jewellery, bush cooking, nature play, meditations, Aboriginal tribe culture, flying boomerangs, music, self-directed play and more. The learning occurs in nature, dealing with natural elements and conditions. Children cultivate environmental mindfulness and self-awareness by exploring and understanding natural cycles and tapping into natural rhythms.    

Benefits of Outdoor Learning

Grow Forest school addresses some areas in child development which are not always focused upon in mainstream education. The child centred learning in a bio diverse environment, both biologically and culturally, nurtures the development of a broader perspective on processes and sustainable life skills. The learning in forest school nurtures positive psychology, personal and cognitive development, self-conditioning, social skills, health and well-being, self-directed learning and emotional competence.

Grow Forest School programs are designed in parts, with monthly workshops where new concepts are explored, and the development of new sustainable and social skills become available. Although continuity has a valued outcome, workshops do stand alone, and participation in any single workshop does not require earlier participation in the program.

Grow Forest School Programs 

  ‘4 Elements’ is one of the school’s signature programs and is currently open for applications for its parts 2 and 3 over July and August. Originally written and delivered for students from Montessori Noosa, who experienced a week-long of learning and nature play at Grow Forest School, ‘4 Elements’ is the school’s signature program. Based on the concept of the four elements in nature, it is a thorough introduction to Grow Forest School learning and its philosophy. 4 Elements is suitable for 6-11 year olds while an early years version, the ‘Earthlings’ program, delivers similar content with a more sensory approach for 3-5 year olds. A new program, ‘Tribe’, is expected to be released in September. ‘Tribe’ will be available in two versions, for the primary and early years, and will focus on principles of permaculture and their application to the tribe’s daily life practices and its culture.

Participants have the opportunity to contribute, with 10% of the profits going to site regeneration projects and the creation of new facilities for future learning.


Grow Forest School in Noosa Valley is an Offical Nature Play Activity Provider.


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