The benefits of outdoor learning and development
From playing on tablets to watching TV, children are becoming more accustomed to learning with technology, especially at a younger age. However, this has led to a number of studies that highlight how negative this can be for their education and development.
In this article, we wanted to explore some of the ways that parents and teachers can utilise the outdoor space around them, to help children learn and develop in a natural environment.
Instilling active lifestyles
Whilst there are benefits to teaching indoors, learning outdoors helps instil an active lifestyle in children from a young age.
Not only does this help them later in life, but it also helps them whilst they’re still growing. When learning outside, they’re often more active, which helps build strong bones and increase their fitness levels, whilst burning off extra calories and energy.
As easy as it might be to shield children from environments that might challenge them, it is sometimes a good thing to let them identify challenges and overcome them by themselves.
By letting them learn outdoors, they are able to understand how to see things through, how their actions impact everything around them, and how not to back down as soon as something becomes harder to accomplish.
When given the opportunity to learn in a new environment, some children will naturally take it upon themselves to find out what they can do by themselves.
They’re able to play and learn, away from adult supervision, which gives them the chance to socially interact, take turns when playing games and negotiate unfamiliar surroundings.
Developing social skills
As outdoor learning spaces are less crowded than indoor spaces, it gives children the opportunity to help children come out of their shells and become more sociable with others.
Even if they’re playing in groups of three or four, outdoor learning makes it easier for them to make new friends and talk to different children. This all helps to encourage social skills and how to interact in a responsible way, without constant adult supervision.
Outdoor learning is one of the ideal ways to help children develop their creative skills. From making up stories about the world around them to creating new ways for using the natural environment, there’s plenty for them to do.
Away from the constraints of indoor learning, they are able to tap into their creative ‘wells’ and learn in new and exciting ways.
Connecting indoor and outdoor learning
When children are given the chance to learn in a new environment, they will subconsciously understand the lessons they’ve already been through in the classroom, with the tasks they’ve set themselves outside.
From basic maths skills (adding up a number of stones in a pile) to story time (creating tales about their surroundings), learning outdoors gives them a chance to understand practical lessons, in a new and exciting environment.
How else will they benefit from outdoor learning?
A high-quality outdoor learning experience can also help children to:
- Develop their inquisitive thinking skills, as well as problem-solving techniques based on ‘real’ situations
- Develop the ability to adapt to certain situations or challenges that they wouldn’t face in the classroom
- Let children identify and manage smaller hazards and risks associated with outdoor play
- Develop collaborative-working and communication skills
- A guide to the Montessori teaching style
- Five tips to help introverted students
- Advice for first-time teaching assistants
In summary, outdoor learning and development can help children understand the natural world, and enhance the skills that they have before moving on to the next stage of their education.
It’s essential that they have the opportunity to enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, and have the chance to grow in a rich, learning environment. They’re able to discover new skills, and play with others in a place that’s open, freeing and full of natural curiosities.
What do you think? Is this something that you’ve seen in your working life? Would you do anything differently?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure you let us know in the comments below. Likewise, if you would like the opportunity to help children in their own education, take a look at the range of jobs we currently have available on our job board.