Outdoor Learning for Children
Continued from back-to-nature-part-1.html
“Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man.” – Henry David Thoreau
What are all these great researchers, scientists and activists talking about? Is nature really that vital? Does it have such a magnanimous impact and influence on our children? In this article let us explore why it is important and necessary for children to spend time in the outdoors.
Outdoors is the lab of life. Nature and outdoors stimulate a lifelong learner in every child. In nature, children can access elements of themselves which otherwise would be slumbering. It awakens children to life.
Nature fosters, involves, nourishes and evolves children. Nature is the garden of heaven and children belong there! Some tangible benefits of spending time in the outdoors are:-
Overall well being of the child
Playing outside our houses takes us inside of ourselves. Fresh air and open skies is invigorating for a child. Playing in the outdoors is a phenomenal sensory stimulation for the child. Fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, concentration, paying attention can be improved in children with outdoor exposure. Nature enhances functioning of the brain and increases analytical skills.
Children who play in the outdoors are much stronger and have better immune systems. Their body balance is also enhanced. They are more alive and filled with enthusiasm; they are more alert and agile. Nature inspires and motivates them. It inspires children to wander and wonder. Spending time in the outdoor nourishes mind, body and spirit of the child.
Nature is the laboratory of life. Childhood is a very impressionable age and outdoors offers all the necessary requirements needed to develop and shape children’s personalities. Outdoors have everything that could nourish the child.
Children pick up behaviors, attitudes and attributes that serve the growth of children into holistic human beings. Nature is a safe place for them to try out new aspects or discover hidden aspects of themselves.
These opportunities enables them to be risk takers, being open to challenges, being empathetic and cooperative, nurture their creative abilities, thinking in perspectives and build resilience. They foster their own growth and development in the outdoors.
Outdoors provide stimulation for heart, mind and body. It provides umpteen opportunities where children learn through exploration and discovery. Children are innate scientists and love to experience the sights, scents, sounds, and textures of the outdoors.
Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving, and finding solutions. They not only discover about nature, they also discover about themselves. Outdoors teaches learning a journey and a process and equips them to carve their own journeys.
Open to uncertainty
Nature is full of surprises, it open and constantly changing. Nature is very mysterious and full of wonder. It might be a sudden change in the weather or spotting a caterpillar perfectly camouflaged. Being open to uncertainty is a very vital lesson for children about life coz life is uncertain. It moves children out of their comfort zones and boredom.
It teaches important lessons of cause and effect. Uncertainty opens doors to the new and unknown. It allows children to explore, fail and try again. Children are more independent and autonomous, which is very important.
Opens doors for creativity
Outdoors enable children to be free flowing, flexible and open minded. Their thought flow and mind activity is not hindered but nourished. This opens their creative channels and they also find opportunities to use and express them. When children express their creativity they alter how they see themselves, their thinking abilities expand, and they are more contented with themselves and more willing to push their boundaries.
Enables social development
When children play in the outdoors, they seldom play alone. They are constantly interacting with other children and also adults. They mingle with different personalities and age groups, too. They connect, collaborate, help and seek help, learn and share. They learn to manage themselves and also manage other children.
They alter their temperaments to suit the nature of the group. They are together in play and crisis. These experiences foster and shape their social behavior for life. They have shared experiences and shared memories together. This will deepen their mental, emotional and social well being.
Cures many conditions, disorders and disabilities
Several studies have proved the therapeutic benefits of being in the outdoors. It has been proved that spending time in the outdoors has reduced ADHDs, learning disabilities, helps slow learners, autistic children and several other conditions. Children with developmental delays have also shown considerable improvements after spending time in the outdoors.
Opportunities for outdoor play are diminishing as a consequence of globalization, technology expansion and urban growth. A growing culture of fear about the possible accidents that might happen and overprotection of the child is affecting parent's attitude towards outdoor play, so children tend to be kept inside, occupied with structured activities, and controlled by adults.
These fears are often hindering natural growth and real expression of children. This transformation is regressing the growth and development of the child. This calls for us to ensure children have sufficient time in nature and outdoors and play as much as possible. Let nature pour its goodness into the well being of our children.
The question is where is this nature? Where is this outdoors? How and when do we expose children to the outdoors? When I look outside of my window, I mostly see apartments and flats and gated communities. I see some green cover that is mostly there for decorative purposes.
Mostly, cemented or tar roads; no uneven paths with grass and puddles. Where will children run with traffic, vehicles and strangers on roads? What if my child touches something or eats something that will cause a cold, an allergy or an infection? How can I make sure my child is safe? Where and how do I start?
Are some of the above questions that bother you as a parent? Find answers in the next article! The question again remains how do we access outdoors and provide such deep and meaningful experiences to our children?
Outlife Experiential Education