Life is enhanced by the great outdoors
Learning can take place anywhere, indoors and outdoors, and in all weathers. In recent years an increasing number of educational settings have given children the opportunity to learn outdoors. The idea of young children learning outdoors seems natural. Young children are naturally curious and therefore should be encouraged to learn through exploring the world. In many countries, such as Sweden, outdoor learning is common practice. Children as young as two spend their days in a forest environment where they can be close to nature. Outdoor learning provides a hands-on learning experience that is not often possible indoors.
In the UK, a number of forest schools based on the policy of Swedish outdoor education have been established. In Iceland outdoor education has also become popular. A number of schools and preschools have included outdoor learning into the weekly schedule. These outdoor sessions involve the children using all their senses to experience and explore real life and nature.
Forest areas are popular for outdoor learning as they provide many different opportunities: seeing the leaves changing colour throughout the year, using sticks, rocks and other natural materials to play and create with, jumping from rocks, climbing trees, and walking on various terrain.
The coastline is also popular environment for outdoor learning. On the coast children can dig in the sand, jump in the ocean, look at shells and sea life, watch and listen to the waves, and learn about life on the coast.
A walk through fields in the countryside introduces children to various plant and wildlife, edible berries and mushrooms, and allows them to explore in wide open spaces.
The countryside offers children the opportunity to visit a farm and learn about various animals up-close.
If these environments are not available then preschools and schools can easily create a nature area within the settings. A pond or garden will attract wildlife, and the children can be involved in planting and caring for the flowers and vegetables.
Keep in mind that many activities are enhanced when they are taken outdoor. Why not try dress-up play, fine motor activities, painting, dancing, gym time and reading outdoors. We should search for creative ways to get children outdoors, where fresh air and the freedom to move around are beneficial for children (and adults).
An ideal location for outdoor learning