I believe outdoor learning experiences are essential to students’ development. Their motor skills, language skills, thinking skills, are all enhanced by outdoor learning. Just playing outside and away from technology is a benefit. Outdoor learning promotes the spark of curiosity in the student and encourages them to explore the environment. “Holistic education is at its best when there is a balance of experience between the classroom and the natural environment” (Young, C., & Alphonso, C., September 2013)” Students also learn from taking risks in outdoor learning. Children need to be challenged as long as they are safe. Taking risks keeps a student interested in outdoor learning. It encourages students to learn about their natural environment and natural place for students to make friends and learn from each other. Children should be encouraged to engage in activities that require them to move all parts of their bodies.
Outdoor learning allows students to learn about new skills, try new ideas and acquire new knowledge and skills through risk-taking. It also provides students with opportunities to discover, to be adventurous and to build confidence in using their bodies. Students play differently outdoors from indoors. One of the major differences include the level and variety of experiences that encourage motor skills and social skills. I believe that outdoor learning promotes student engagement which in turn allows for student inquiry. As studied in course content, “A place for wonder, mystery and discovery … We need to think about creating classroom environments that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children’s inherent curiosity and innate yearning for exploration is a classroom where children are passionate about learning and love school.” (Heard & McDonough, 2009).
Also related to course content is using the outdoor environment as the third teacher. “A classroom that is functioning successfully as a third teacher will be responsive to the children’s interests, provide opportunities for children to make their thinking visible and then foster further learning and engagement.” (Fraser, S.,2012, p. 67). Outdoor learning provides all these interests and opportunities for children.When planning and designing outdoor learning spaces, it must be stimulating, challenging and a safe place to learn. It’s designed to offer students different learning experiences with a balance of skills and concepts that promote active movement, exploration of the unknown, experiences with unpredictable events and new discoveries. “Getting outside motivates children to learn, keeps them attentive, builds their imaginations and improves classroom behaviour, all of which can improve test scores” (Young, C., & Alphonso, C., September 2013). I also appreciate some challenges when trying to set up an outdoor learning environment. Weather conditions can be a challenge, organizing learning centers with all the necessary equipment, accessibility for all students, funding to start up the program and safety issues for the children. In my primary outdoor learning classroom, I would strive to incorporate centers
- Outdoor Learning: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/schools-looking-outside-to-inspirestudents/article14488735/ Environmental Education: Grades 1-8 (2017): http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/environmental_ed_kto8_eng.pdfThe Classroom Environment First, Last, and Always, by Kathleen Roskos and Susan B. Neuman – available through Western Libraries http://lib.uwo.ca
- Capacity Building Series document on The Third Teacher: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_ThirdTeacher.pdf
- Fraser, S. (2012). Authentic childhood. To, ON: Nelson Education
- Heard, G., & McDonough, J. (2009). A place for wonder. Portland, ME. Stenhouse