Regular, organised learning activities outside the classroom can be as effective as learning activities inside it. Outdoor learning sessions are fun for children, but they also help them to make sense of the world around them by putting their learning into a meaningful context.
Outdoor learning can also have a positive impact on children's well-being and development. Recent studies have highlighted some of the benefits:
- Higher levels of conversational language
- Greater independence
- Improved health and sleeping patterns
- Greater physical competence and agility
- Improved concentration
- Greater understanding of nature and the environment
- Improved social skills, involvement and initiative
Opportunities for outdoor learning exist within and across all curriculum areas, including enterprise education and global citizenship. Different outdoor learning experiences offer opportunities for personal and social development, communication, problem solving, information technology, working with others, thinking skills, literacy, numeracy and most other curriculum areas.
Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous, and helps children learn by experience and grow as confident and responsible citizens who value and appreciate the natural environment.
Some people do worry about the risks of taking children into the big outdors and out of the 'safe' classroom, but when the day is well-planned, outdoor learning experiences are often memorable and very successful. Outdoor-based sessions can even have a positive effect on the behaviour of all pupils!
Learning in the outdoors can make significant contributions to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.
- In literacy, there are opportunities to use different texts - the spoken word, charts, maps, timetables and instructions
- In numeracy, there are opportunities to measure angles and calculate bearings and journey times
- In health and wellbeing, there are opportunities to become physically active in alternative ways and to improve emotional wellbeing and mental health.
So all in all, outdoor learning is beneficial for children because learning in a different environment to the classroom can deepen their understanding, and beneficial for their teachers because it enables them to link learning across the curriculum in a different context and at all levels.
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