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12 reasons to take learning outside

Learning that is fun, active and creative is many times more likely to engage a child and embed the lesson aims. As the well known saying goes: 'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.' We embrace this philosophy across the curriculum at St George’s School for Girls and further, understand the other multiple benefits of taking lessons outside.

The benefits of outdoor learning for children go way beyond merely that of education – and beyond the realms of us just teaching them. Outdoor learning encompasses the wellbeing of the whole child and offers them experiences that they will draw upon time and again throughout their lives. At St George’s, we are committed to helping our pupils on this journey and getting the best start to leading a happy, healthy and enriching lifestyle.

Outdoor learning:

  1. Increases physical health – physical exercise in the fresh air of the outdoors is a vital element in enabling a child’s body to develop and grow and is the key to solving so many of the health problems that we face today. Benefits include: building muscle, strengthening bones, improving digestion, bolstering the immune system, facilitating sleep, helping the body to heal, increasing endorphins and increasing energy levels, to name but a few.
  2. Develops personal and social communication skills – these are essential life skills, which aim to equip every child for wherever their future takes them: teamwork, negotiation, mediation, compromise, problem solving, respect, co-operation. Outside the confines of the classroom, children are far more likely to turn to each other to help complete a task or solve a problem than to seek the teacher’s assistance.
A pupil is supervised whilst carving (Photo: Tony Marsh)
A pupil is supervised whilst carving (Photo: Tony Marsh)
  1. Makes learning engaging and relevant – increasing knowledge and skills in a practical context. Taking the curriculum outside makes maths, language and any subject fun, interactive and often more memorable. Hands-on teaching and a multi-sensory experience where children are able to investigate and discover things for themselves opens up a whole new world of learning and has a far higher chance of being retained than the filling out of a worksheet in the classroom.
  2. Stimulates gross and fine motor skills – through physical play, outdoor learning increases balance, spatial awareness, understanding, trust and self-belief in their capabilities.
  3. Increases mental and spiritual health – supporting wellbeing, self-confidence, self-esteem and emotional resilience, and reducing anxiety and stress levels.
  4. Develops personal responsibility and respect for others and the natural world – developing an understanding of the need for a sustainable relationship between people and planet. We encourage our pupils to be responsible citizens, knowing that what they do not value, they will not protect and what they do not protect, they will lose.
  5. Encourages perseverance and increases independence – given a practical task, particularly one of their own design, children outdoors demonstrate an increased drive and motivation to succeed without adult intervention.
Children are much more likely to engage with learning that is fun, active and creative (Photo: Tony Marsh)
Children are much more likely to engage with learning that is fun, active and creative (Photo: Tony Marsh)
  1. Extends personal horizons and provides new opportunities – investigation, exploration and self-led discovery in unstructured play plays an important role in a child’s learning journey. Some children who are less academic in class can be born leaders in the outdoors – the roles are reversed for them.
  2. Nurtures creativity and imagination through limitless and ever-changing resources – increasing sensory and aesthetic awareness, the physical freedom of the outdoors gives real freedom to the mind and stimulates creative play. Unlike man-made equipment, natural resources and features are non-prescriptive, their uses limited only by the child’s imagination: provide an area of woodland or natural materials for a child, and they will use their imagination to make it come alive.
  3. Develops learning through play and experimentation – becoming nature detectives and scientists, children thrive and learn through real life contexts.
  4. Increases motivation and focus – giving greater clarity in thinking, increasing alertness and improving concentration. Children are engaged, involved and enjoying themselves.
  5. Provides a forum for problem solving, risk-taking, discovery, adventure, challenge – and FUN!

Find out more in the latest issue of Wood Wise

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