The benefits of outdoor learning
Find out how outdoor learning can build children's confidence and transform their relationships with teachers.
Whoever said nothing good can be learned outside the classroom has never planted and harvested vegetables with their own hands, seen a litter of puppies come into the world or drifted off to sleep with the soft blinking of fireflies beside their bed.
Many of us are so used to the conventional way of learning, which is within the 4 walls of a classroom, that we rarely think of other environments that don’t involve an actual classroom.
I’m not saying that learning within a classroom doesn’t have benefits. In fact, the classroom is essential for learning. It provides a stable, regulated, organised centre for developing an understanding of a given subject.
It also provides children a place to listen, to comprehend and to learn what skills are necessary to do. But have you ever thought how stimulating it might be for a child if learning were taken outside the classroom… outdoor learning so-to-speak?
Once students have had a chance to learn and prepare within a classroom, it is time to let them go. We must allow them to go out and see the how, why and what of what they have learned.
Only when they see a cocoon shrivel and a butterfly emerge will they understand the importance of living things, life cycles and environmental events
Only when they see how much ¼ cup is and that 2 cups of flour is all that is needed to bake cookies will mathematical measurements really mean something to them.
These type of non-traditional classrooms are where dreams of being future doctors, scientists, musicians, artists, teachers and parents are born.
Here is where extra-curricular activities come into play as well and we all know about the benefits of sports and other outdoor activities.
The benefits of outdoor learning… continued on the next page.
While lessons in the classroom and exams help shape a student’s mind and book learning abilities, sporting or club activities like chess, Scrabble and the Editorial Board, to name a few, are an excellent way to develop a child’s social skills, character and ability to interact with other children in a cohesive environment.
It’s vital to build on the education students receive indoors by taking it outdoors. In fact, most teachers will testify that the two work hand-in-hand to mold a wholesome student and individual.
Outdoor learning can also help a child:
– Develop self-esteem, take personal responsibility, co-operate with and respect the needs of others;
– Extend their personal horizon through a greater understanding of the world and people;
– Understand the need for a sustainable relationship between people and the environment;
– Enhance practical problem-solving skills and team work.
– Enhance health. A study of 10- to 12-year-olds published in the International Journal of Obesity found outdoor education can be a key factor in avoiding childhood obesity.
– Improve grades. A 2006 study of school children in California showed that after studying on an outdoor curriculum basis, students from 11 schools scored higher than students of traditional systems in 72% of assessments.
– Improve memory. Experiencing something new releases dopamine into the hippocampus where memories are created. Moving learning out of a classroom and into the outdoors opens up a world of fresh stimuli for the senses.
Having talked about the benefits of both indoor and outdoor learning, it’s also important to remember that no child thrives in either a classroom only or free-style haphazard learn-what-you-may environment.
It takes balance. It takes a good measure of both indoor and outdoor classrooms for children to grow and to develop a passion for life and a passion for learning.
For parents out there who desire only the best for your children, do remember that a good balance between indoor and outdoor education will help your child grow into a well-balanced adult. Parents should also support with a good nutritious diet, to help them stay healthy in order to experience all the fun and learning that nature has to offer.
Friso believes in providing the right nutrition for children so that they can stay strong on the inside and enjoy outdoor learning where they can learn to be creative, confident and resilient.
In addition, outdoor learning helps them to be team players where sharing, negotiating, conflict management, decision making and “self-advocacy” skills can be practiced.
We hope you enjoyed the article and that it was beneficial to you. If your child is actively involved in outdoor learning, share with us how you think this benefits him or her by leaving a comment below.