Chapter 1 – What are the benefits of outdoor learning?
Care for the natural world
Childhood experience of nature and participation in outdoor activity can lead to children developing an understanding of and deep affinity with the natural world. Further into adult life, this can sometimes even lead directly to a future career in environmental conservation. Researchers have examined those significant influences in people’s lives which had led to their increased environmental awareness. They have found that within the UK, the most significant factor that influences people’s concerns about the environment was childhood experience of the natural world. The critical age of influence is very often before 12 years of age and contact with the natural world before this age can strongly influence positive future behaviours towards the environment.
Engaging early years children with the living world around them that will form a platform for later learning and development. A visit will provide a sensory experience of the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside, whilst also developing a young child’s innate interest in animals and living things in a real world setting rather than just in a story book. Additionally, taking pupils out of the classroom setting will allow them to burn off energy and enable personal development at the same time.
An outdoor learning venue can be an exciting place for many fun activities for the children to get involved with. These can include many activities that meet the early years curriculum. For example:
- Story telling and poems
- Getting involved in counting activities such as collecting eggs or picking strawberries
- Matching names to farm animals and looking at body parts
- Taking part in treasure hunts to discover different materials
- Artwork such as collecting different coloured leaves and bark rubbing