Learning opportunities in the outdoors engage children in ways that are different from indoors. From open spaces to stimuli from the natural environment, outdoor learning encourages children to play, explore, and discover the world around them. These outdoor experiences can also be a way to emphasise or support what they have learned in class and encourage them to make discoveries on their own.
Through fun and frequent interactions with the outdoor environment, children are encouraged to form active lifestyles and start developing a love for the environment as they grow to be healthy youths and adults. While outdoor learning is a norm in many countries, it is becoming an increasingly integral part of early childhood practices.
Read on to discover what makes the outdoor learning experience so unique and the extensive social, physical, and cognitive benefits of learning beyond the classroom.
1. From Indoors to Outdoors
By providing open-ended materials and resources in the outdoors, children are given the chance to engage in purposeful outdoor activities and extend their learning beyond their indoor classrooms. Whether the activities are child-initiated or facilitated by adults, children can make meaningful connections between their indoor and outdoor experiences and in turn, develop a better understanding of certain concepts they have been learning or improve skills they have been exploring.
2. Encourage Inquiry-Based Learning
Outdoor classrooms are highly dynamic as it changes every day with different elements and materials that provide different experiences on different occasions. As children construct their own knowledge of this ever-changing outdoor world and develop natural curiosity over time, it offers valuable teaching opportunities for parents or teachers to investigate and explore the outdoors together with them through child-led conversations and hands-on activities.
3. Enhance Cognitive Development
When learning outdoors, children are immersed in a multisensory world which can help engage and sharpen their senses that are stimulated. The unstructured time and space outdoors also allow them to come up with self-directed activities to engage themselves which boosts their imagination, critical thinking and organizational abilities as they play alone or with their peers. As such, children who engage in outdoor learning are more likely to experience improvement in cognitive skills like creativity, imagination, critical thinking, analysation, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills.
4. Improve Social Skills
As children play and learn in a shared outdoor space, they have numerous opportunities to communicate with others and engage in positive and meaningful interactions in which they can learn interpersonal and social skills through taking turns, sharing, cooperating, negotiating and talking with each other. They are also more likely to develop greater self-awareness through these interactions as they not only learn about their feelings but also how it affects themselves and others.
5. A Healthier Lifestyle
Outdoor learning not only improves physical health, but it also enhances a child’s mental and emotional well-being. By playing outdoors, children are given the space to challenge their physical capabilities and improve their motor skills such as coordination, balance and agility. It can also improve their mental health, level of attention and focus as the outdoor environment provides a calming effect and decreases stress.
6. Develop a Love for Nature
When children are more exposed to the outdoors through learning and play, they are given the opportunity to learn more about the various plants and animals that nature has to offer and the importance of conservation and sustainability. Regular outdoor experiences also allow children to gain fond memories and form an emotional bond with nature, thus developing their love and appreciation for the environment. As they grow to become adults, they are more likely to feel responsible for the upkeep of the environment and participate in preservation efforts.
Preschools and childcare centres in Singapore that encourage outdoor learning tend to find their students happier, healthier, more socially aware, and academically inclined. Raffles Kidz is an established, award-winning preschool brand in Singapore that has seamlessly incorporated outdoor learning into the curriculum. With our ample outdoor learning spaces, children will have plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about the world around them. Book a tour with us today to find out more!