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With summer well on its way, it’s important for parents to consider some ways in which they can encourage their youngsters to put down their smartphones and games consoles and get outside. The great outdoors provides a range of learning opportunities for children that cannot be explored in traditional classroom environments, so why not make the most of this when the weather is a little nicer?
In fact, many schools aim to incorporate this holistic approach to learning within their curriculum, particularly for younger students who are developing their fine motor skills. I have teamed up with an international school in Somerset to explore the benefits of outdoor learning in further detail below. Incidentally how amazing does Somerset look? It isn’t an area I have visited often but am very tempted!
Outdoor Learning is Fun
Taking long walks through the woods, doing obstacle courses, camping, riding a bike or even just planting some seeds in the garden are all really fun activities for young children. They are able to engage all of their senses and develop skills that cannot be fully explored in normal lessons at school.
For example, they will develop the ability to analyse risks and solve problems, such as “how safe is this tree to climb?”. Even for less confident children they could use good budget camping hammocks and look for the best places to put them, it doesn’t all have to be about climbing trees. By exposing youngsters to various learning environments, their curious little minds have ample opportunity to think outside the box and ask many questions.
Outdoor Learning Encourages a Sense of Respect for the Environment
Let’s face it, we could all do with being a little kinder to the environment, and helping children understand this from a young age will go a long way. Exploring nature and learning more about how the world works will help your child become a conscious global citizen and consider the ways in which they could potentially go green! Try and find opportunities to chat to your child about how our choices and behaviour affect the world around us in different ways.
Outdoor Learning Promotes Physical and Mental Wellbeing
Outdoor activities encourage the release of serotonin, which is known is “the happy chemical”. In other words, a child who hears the sounds of nature and gets plenty of fresh air and exercise should, in theory, be less stressed and in a better mood. With the rise of technology, parents tend to worry about how much time their children are spending indoors in front of a screen, which isn’t good for their physical or mental health.
Outdoor Learning Ideas:
There are so many options when it comes to outdoor activities, we really are spoilt for choice. Here are some suggestions:
- Prepare a scavenger hunt for your child and their friends in which they have to look for items exclusive to the outdoors, like acorns, conkers, and certain types of leaves.
- Plant your own vegetable patch and encourage your child to take care of the plants so that they start to develop a sense of responsibility. This will be super rewarding because you’ll be able to eat the plants you’ve grown afterwards.
- Go somewhere new and teach your child to read a map. Understanding the different symbols and developing a sense of co-ordination will help your child in their maths and geography lessons going forward.
- Invest in a magnifying glass and go on a bug hunt. Talk to your child about their natural habitats and encourage them to count how many bugs they can see. They could even jot down their findings in a little bug diary.
These are just a few ideas to get you started; once you get going, you won’t be able to stop!
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