As summer kicks in, more and more outdoor learning opportunities become options for families. Here are three reasons why outdoor play is the key to positive learning experiences.
About a century ago, learning headed outside as a result of major global pandemics. The lawn became the classroom and the open air became it’s ceiling. Now, over a hundred years later schools across the world are building outdoor learning into their models, and parents are following suit! Why head outdoors to play and learn?
More sedentary and busy lifestyles means that outdoor play needs to be consciously incorporated into our lives. The outdoors is a constantly changing and stimulating environment, providing space and freedom to run and play and reduce limits. Being exposed to sunlight, fresh air and new materials helps children develop physically as well as mentally.
The outdoor environment offers a limitless stimulus that captures children's attention and interest, especially in the summer. Sticks, rocks, flowers, soil, and water can be explored with curiosity and drive learning, as they offer countless possibilities for play! The simple act of taking turns, and taking on small leadership roles like being a captain in a team game or a race can develop self-regulatory skills.
Danish ‘udeskole’ (outdoor, forest schools) are the perfect example of outdoor learning done right. Students are taken into the forest-setting multiple times a week and allowed to explore and play with natural materials, strengthening their capacity for change and opening up their perspectives on their community. Have an older child who is more desk-based? Even just a session or day a week spent in a woodland environment like this can spark creativity 🌈 There are spaces in urban settings too, like city botanical gardens and free parks, and plenty of summer camps based completely outdoors.
One of the best activities that you can lead in nature is to watch it change and grow. Heading back to the same spot at different points in the month or year, and recording what you find allows children to verbalise what they notice. Change the way your child looks at maths by recording the different shapes you can see in the natural landscape. Make traces of objects on paper to measure out when you get home 🌻
Lucky enough to have your own outdoor space or have access to a forest or woodland? Grab some wildflower seed packs and make seed bombs to throw and disperse in nature. Don’t forget to go back and see how they’ve bloomed. Watch the smiles too!
Spending less time outdoors means that we are becoming less connected to nature, and less knowledgeable about it, too. Urban growth and the development of technology means it’s hard to head outside as often as we’d like to. If this starts at a young age, these habits become lifelong. Here are some final tips you can pass on to children to get them thinking about sustainability from the outset:
- Leave out fresh water for birds and animals in your garden. On hotter days, this might be their only source of water! Make it fun by creating a fun sign in an outdoor art session.
- Make a scarecrow out of old materials that need recycling to ward off birds from any new plants. Remind them why these materials need to be used again!
- Leave no trace. On your walks and adventures, remember to be careful where you tread and to take all your rubbish home with you.
‘Natural spaces are essential for human development and wellbeing. And none more so than those we set aside for our children’ - David Attenborough
Want to provide some indoor focus before or after a day spent outside? Book a free trial tutoring class with one of our experts! With our Summer Tutoring Plans, we can work closely with your child to make up for lost learning.