We all have our share of cherished memories of outdoor activities from schools, be it from the physical education classes or the planned outdoor activities for education. Outdoor learning is a methodological approach for educating children within natural surroundings and using nature’s tools. Children learn what they are taught. The conventional approach involves the classroom’s four-walled surroundings where the child is taught concepts and skills in theory and communication. Bringing a shift from this type to anew, incorporating outdoor learning exposes the children to a natural environmental setting including activities and lessons for their growth. Numerous schools are shifting to this education process and newer ones inculcating it entirely.
The outdoor learning concept has revolutionized the perception of a child’s education from the school's learning. It is a beautiful world outside with colours and textures, air and land, sound and light, which the children would be enjoying to their fullest. In the classroom, all we can do is set an artificial nature’s simulation but bringing the children outside those concrete structures will do wonders for their learning. In a group, the child learns to work and play together, the activities involve communication and petty fights with fellow mates, which adds to the learning of the child on working together with fellow mates as a team, leading to their social skills development.
Schools and Pre-schools now have begun to change their approach towards education and are slowly opting for a shift in the aboriginal method. They’ve started merging nature-based learning in their course of education. Elements Nature-based Preschool is one such school with this learning method into practice. The school has a well-planned curriculum for the kids incorporating nature-based learning in their methodology.
The educators in the preschools with nature-based concepts of learning are well trained in the art of risk handling with children outdoors and understand the limits and freedom to the activities. This is important to evaluate and analyze the activities involved in outdoor learning and the risks associated with involving children in them. The kind of bond between the educator and the child or among two children has an impact on their mental development as well. The activities in outdoor learning thus help promote the enhancement in not only the child’s physical but their mental abilities as well, thus leading to their holistic growth.
The child’s sensory and motor skills develop in the process of outdoor learning for they are involved in activities like running, jumping, gardening, picking or segregation activities. These activities are a boost to the child’s physical growth. The muscle movement and interactions involving activities promote healthier growth. They learn coordination between communication and fun play. The fresh air and sunlight promote healthier breathing. Sunlight is beneficial for children and the open atmosphere under the tree’s shade fosters clearer air circulation. Self-awareness results from the challenges and risks of accidents in outdoor learning. The child will develop self-confidence and responsibility in actions and activities.
There are different elements in a natural environment. The child will learn the overall concept after being friends with its elements. An activity to link colours and objects will help them know their significance and they’ll learn to link the textures with colours. The sound of birds chirping or the water dripping and flowing while gardening in the damp soil has a tremendous impact on the child’s understanding of associations between textures, colours, and elements. The grey stone on the green grass or a yellow sun-flower with the color of the sun, these associations will come with a knowledge of their meanings. This encourages curiosity among children.
They’ll be inquisitive in their approach towards objects and situations thus defining an approach to real-life situations as well. They learn to ask for relations among elements. The count of three brown dry leaves on the paper bag will leave a deeper imprint on education grounds than the same sentence on the whiteboard in the classroom. The amicable flora and fauna living together in the garden or those seen on a wildlife zoo or a jungle tour will make children understand the sensitivity of nature’s elements. A nature-respecting child will become a better citizen in the future. Watching ants build homes under the shade or in the tree’s bark will make them recognize habitats.
Outdoor learning involves playing games, outdoor activities, environmental education, and programs. When engaged in activities, children learn to work in a group. This improves their social skills and they are motivated to explore other areas. Discovering new parameters of nature and understanding them is important for a child’s development.
This approach is in dramatic contrast to the conventional methods and with the combination of skilled teaching, fascinating experiences and activities interpretations, the results are evident in the child's growth and skill development.