Outdoor Learning is a wide term that includes: outside play in the early years, faculty grounds projects, and environmental education, leisure and adventure activities. In recent times, there has been a global shift towards technology and indoor classroom activities and recess and outdoor time has been cut short. With a lack of government funding on public parks and facilities, many children live what one play authority referred to as childhood imprisonment. Most young children spend their free time at home in front of televisions and screens, and the only opportunity they get to play outdoors is at schools.
According to LOTC – Council of Learning Outside the Classroom:
“It is essential that young children get frequent and regular opportunities to explore and learn in the outdoor environment and this should not be seen as an optional extra. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum, which covers children aged birth to the end of the Reception year, became statutory in September 2008 and places a strong emphasis on the importance and value of daily outdoor experiences for children’s learning and development.
Some of the aspects that impact child development through outdoor play are as follows:
The sun’s UV rays help the body make nutrients and it’s extremely essential for growing bodies of young children. It also helps you take in and use certain minerals, like calcium and phosphorus.
Children who spend time playing outdoors use their gross motor muscles to run, skip, jump and use the outdoor equipment which further strengthens their balance, agility and overall health. The blood flow to the brain through exercise, helps children get smarter.
In fresh, outdoor air, children do not have to re-breathe the germs of the group, and the chance for spreading infection is reduced. Strengthen immune system Playing outside allows your child an escape from indoor germs and bacteria.
Outdoors are not structures like classrooms. A natural outdoor environment filled with intriguing natural material can boost creativity and imagination for children. Making mud pies, sandcastles and structures out of leaves can help young minds experiment with their ideas as well as provide a sensory encounter necessary for children.
Spending time outdoors supports the development of executive functions in several ways. Developing executive function skills is a combination of brain development and life experience, for this the early years are crucial. Nature play focuses on problem-solving, creativity, and emotional and intellectual development
There is a bacterium in soil that has been found to increase serotonin in the brain and improve mood. We all do better when we are happy and feeling good. Lack of play hurts children. When children go outside and play, the develop skills like cooperation, it helps in language development and inquiry. Games like tag teach children rules and consequences. Any kind of imaginative play where children take up roles trains them for social skills in general.
Appreciation of Nature
Humans have evolved around nature. We are dependent on it. The sense of wonder and enjoyment nature provides is the same for adults as it is for children. Outdoor exposure helps children develop love and respect for nature. When they focus on tiny buds on growing plants and watch the ant march across the sand, it fills then with a sense of wonder, with modeling and guidance, children learn to appreciate nature. Hugging trees and watching the birds, they understand the beauty and building lasting connections.
“Movement through active free play, especially outside, improves everything from creativity to academic success to emotional stability. Ideally, kids should be playing outside for three hours each day, not including organized sports.” – Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist.
Children must play outside, every day, come rain or shine. It’s recommended to play during all seasons. Children will allergies must spend time away from plants and trees that aggravate them, always wear Sun block in the sun. Connect with nature for a happier, healthier life.
— Nuvaira Dhedhi
Early Childhood Educator
Sources : Link to full summary: Summary of the Effects of Outdoor Education Programs or “Does Outdoor Education Work?” Which will lead you to a meta-analysis of 97 research studies by John A. Hattie, Herbert W. Marsh, James T. Neill, and Garry E. Richards. Review of Educational Research, 67, 43-87, 1997.