Time spent outdoors is a key part of happy childhood. So many wonderful memories can be forged on the beach or in a forest and both rural and urban environments offer a range of opportunities for children to learn and thrive. No matter their age, most children enjoy the freedom to explore new places and discover new things. I have teamed up with an independent prep school in Somerset to discuss the benefits of outdoor learning in detail below.
Fresh air, the ability to run freely and a little bit of vitamin D can go a long way in supporting a child’s physical and mental health. Even when it’s raining or windy, being surrounded by nature has mood boosting effects. In fact, scientists believe that walking on a regular basis amongst the trees can help with depression because it prompts the production of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for happiness. This health benefits are enough reason alone to encourage your child to explore the great outdoors as often as possible.
Many parents often worry about the amount of time their child spends playing on smartphones and other digital devices. Encouraging them to participate in outdoor learning activities will give them a much-needed break from this technology. Perhaps you could build a bird feeder together and use binoculars to look out for some feathered friends or plant some vegetables and teach your child about the responsibility involved in ensuring they grow. Another option is to organise a scavenger hunt with some of their friends to teach them more about nature as well as healthy competition.
As well as improving their health and wellbeing, outdoor learning helps children develop a range of key skills, such as problem solving. The more challenges a child is exposed to outside of the constraints of a classroom, the better they will become at conquering those challenges. They will learn to identify risks and make appropriate decisions. By developing these types of skills, there’s no wonder that outdoor learning helps promote confidence.
The more time your child spends outdoors, the more respect they will have for the environment. It’s important for parents and teachers to help raise a generation of conscious global citizens, who understand the impact that we, as humans, have on the environment so that they can therefore find ways to become more eco-friendly.