This article has been written by early years consultant, Anne Rodgers, from ATR Consultancy. What can children learn and experience outdoors? Children can learn and experience…
5 Benefits of Outdoor Learning in Early Years
The benefits of learning outside the classroom are endless. Being outside allows children to express themselves freely and unlike an indoor classroom, there aren’t any space constraints meaning children can jump, shout and explore to their hearts content. The sense of freedom playing outdoors brings is fantastic for a child’s development, both physically and mentally.
The importance of outside play in early years can’t be underestimated and below are just some of the many benefits it offers to children:
Encourages an Active Lifestyle
Children who learn to play outdoors are much more likely to continue to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, running and cycling as they get older. Given the number of gadgets and new technology available to us all, outdoor play is an extremely important factor in combatting an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Appreciation of Nature and the Environment
Learning in an outdoor environment allows children to interact with the elements around us and helps them to gain an understanding of the world we live in. They can experience animals in their own surroundings and learn about their habitats and lifecycles.
Develops Social Skills
Indoor spaces can often feel overcrowded to children and naturally, they may feel intimated in this type of environment. More space outdoors can help children to join in and ‘come out of their shells’. Giving children outdoor learning experiences offers them a chance to talk about what they have done with their friends, teachers and parents.
The extra space offered by being outdoors will give children the sense of freedom to make discoveries by themselves. They can develop their own ideas or create games and activities to take part in with their friends without feeling like they’re being directly supervised. They’ll begin to understand what they can do by themselves and develop a ‘can do‘ attitude, which will act as a solid foundation for future learning.
Being outdoors provides children with more opportunities to experience risk-taking. They have the chance to take part in tasks on a much bigger scale and complete them in ways they might not when they’re indoors. They can learn to make calculated decisions such as ‘should I jump off this log?’ or ‘can I climb this tree?’
Outdoor learning resources don’t have to be expensive. You can utilise objects you’ll find outside such as logs, tree stumps and sticks. Add in some fabric or an old sheet and you can create a simple den which will provide hours of play for children.
Need some outdoor learning inspiration? Try our Top 10 Sand and Water Play Activities!