We learn best when we're awake, ready, welcomed, and encouraged. When we can breathe, relax, organize our thoughts, and connect to something real. We learn best when we can ask questions, use real life examples. We learn best when we can actually experience life and living - when we move freely and express our uniqueness!
These reasons are why we believe in outdoor education. It gives school learning, which is so often connected with sitting at a desk inside a classroom, a much-needed and long overdue breath of fresh air. If we want our children to be successful in an ever-changing, fast-paced, environmentally sensitive and diverse world, we really should be rethinking what schooling looks like. Sitting at a desk all day crunching meaningless algorithms and writing about the weather while you're sitting inside is hardly connecting our students to the world they will grow up in, and someday be the leaders in! Here's just a sampling of benefits of taking the classroom outside:
8 Benefits of Learning Outside
Bright colours, crisp lines, and everything moving, changing, adapting, and living to liven up the senses we use to learn! The natural world we live in can refresh our view, open up our natural senses that enable us to create, listen, and explore. Being outside can inspire new perspectives on familiar topics, giving something we thought we knew or completely understood a fresh new look. It can bring a critical eye (or ear, or nose!) to whatever topic is being explored and inspire innovative, imaginative, and creative juices to flow. It sparks the imagination and keeps it flowing. How can a room with 4 walls, no matter how brightly lit up and decorated, compare?
2. Physical Activity
Wide open spaces. Free to move, to wiggle, to fidget, to twiddle or tap. To feel the Earth beneath your feet while feeling the wind on your face is enough to keep you awake, engaged, and energized. No need to use stationary bikes to get your energy out, or handheld devices to capture our attention or entertain our fidgeting hands that are just bursting to dig into something. Just get outside!
3. Calm Mind
The quiet call of a bird in a forest. The wind rustling through the leaves. The water stream rushing over the rocks. You can buy these sounds on iTunes to get in touch with your inner self, calm the mind, or focus for study time. However, you could also simply go outside and save a few bucks. The effects of the sounds of nature are obviously soothing and relaxing, and they can allow our minds to calm and refocus. Reading a book, writing a story, drawing a sketch, solving a math problem, mapping out ideas – whatever it is that could be done quietly at a desk can easily be taken outside, and not only calm the mind, but also strengthen the ability to focus.
4. Natural Curiosity
Why is the sky blue? What is this plant called? Why does this bug look like that? What’s that sound? What’s over there? The questions are endless. And honestly, they should remain that way. The natural curiosity of a child is proof of their instinct to learn, and they natural motivation to want to learn. Exposing them to the outside world around them, filled with many interesting, provoking things is the perfect platform to spark imagination, questioning, researching, exploring, and answering. Letting a child’s questions guide the force of learning will only inspire them to keep learning, without fear and with a welcoming environment to take it into their own hands.
5. Real Life Relevancy
A flower first starts as a seed, then develops roots, a stem, and a bud. A caterpillar builds a cocoon and transforms into a butterfly. The Earth rotates around the sun, while also spinning round and round on it’s own axis giving us day and night, and also the four seasons in a year. What better way to experience and build understanding of these concepts, and many more, than to get outside and explore them, first hand? Certainly not by looking at pictures of them in a book or on the Internet! The more connected a concept is with a tangible and meaningful experience, the more likely we are to care, engage, and take pride in understanding them.
7. Earth Connection
We want our children to grow up caring about the environment, because we’ve experienced the effects of the mistakes and massive power the environment has. Pollution, endangered habitats, endangered species, global warming, natural disasters, depleting natural resources – the list goes on. We know generations growing up today need to invest in the environment, however to do, they need to experience it. They need to know it’s power, it’s relevancy to our daily lives, and our dependence on it. They need to be outside to know what’s outside, and how to protect it, build it, and sustain it.
8. And lastly, our apologies, but we’re just going to be blunt and put it out there... Get the heck out of the classroom and EXPERIENCE learning. Experience life! School should be full of experiences that are engaging, exciting, and thought provoking. Experience your senses, the world around you, and the gift of being able to expand your mind while embracing the very world we live in and depend on for life itself!
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