Recently, there seems to be a rise in popularity in the demand of nature, outdoor-based preschool education. While some parents might feel sceptical about choosing the outdoors as the learning environment for their child’s education, other parents are quite open to it. The doubts that are troubling these parents’ minds are not unreasonable though.
The outdoors can seem like a threatening, foreign land for children to step in as there are more risks and concerns when it comes to the outdoors. It poses its own threats such as insect bites, accidents on hard terrain, touching a plant they’re allergic to, and many more. Yes, it cannot be denied that the outdoors comes with a set of risks but when you think about it, so do the indoors.
The truth of the matter is that children will always be prone to accidents and mistakes – it’s part and parcel of growing up. Parents need to understand that children learn from these accidents that most parents try so hard to avoid. Unlike the indoors, the outdoors is a completely new and different learning environment for your children to explore.
Despite the ever-growing emphasis on technology and the use of devices in the classroom, learning in the great outdoors grounds children and simply offers them numerous opportunities to be completely immersed in the learning environment through the use of their senses.
Outdoor learning is also gives permission for children to take a break from being confined in the classrooms and to their seats – the outdoors lets children run around, climb, jump, crawl, and just fully express themselves with little to no limitations.
There can be a fine balance between both learning environments as both are essential in helping children to develop in different areas of learning. The indoors, for example, ensures children are kept focused and engaged with the teaching and learning process while the outdoors is a place where children can take control of their own learning. There is never a stronger emphasis on one or the other so a teacher has to know how to balance between both worlds for the benefit of the children.
Play-based learning, which is also an emerging trend in early childhood education, is ideally carried out in a learning environment where children are allowed to roam and explore the surroundings on their own which is why the outdoors makes an optimal learning area for play-based activities to take place.
There are many reasons why children should be allowed outside more often than they are now. So here are the top 3 reasons why outdoor learning is great for early learners:
Unlike the indoors, children are exposed to the sun when they are outdoors and it causes them to sweat a lot more. Sweating itself has many health benefits such as eliminating toxins from the body and increases blood circulation. Natural sunlight also offers many health benefits such as vitamin D which has been shown to improve brain function. Children are also able to do more active, rigorous activities when they are outside such as riding a bike or playing football. These activities will eventually cultivate healthy hobbies and develop children’s interest in sports.
As mentioned earlier, the outdoors do come with a set of risks. However, it is known that these risks which include tripping and falling are valuable life experiences that children will have to face sooner or later. These accidents build children’s resilience and make them stronger to bounce back from any kind of trips or falls in the future. This does not only apply to physical accidents but also mistakes that they might do in the classroom. Resilience also teaches children to know how to take criticism and improves their overall confidence inside and outside of the classroom.
Break from Screens and Gadgets
Most of the activities that occur indoors revolve around electronic gadgets and screens. This is a fact and children can’t seem to run away from it in this digital age. So allowing children to play outdoors is a good alternative from the tech-devices. Excessive usage of electronics has been shown to have detrimental physical and mental effects on children. So, finding the right equilibrium between the time spent indoors and outdoors should create a healthy balance for children.
The outdoors holds endless learning opportunities for children, from literacy to science education – it seems that the outdoors can be a great place for children to learn anything and everything. Some classroom activities are also better carried out outdoors such as science experiments with toddlers which can get quite messy at times. So, bringing the experience outdoors will not only be an otherworldly experience for children but also strategic for these messy learning activities to take place as it requires minimal cleaning up afterwards.