During experiences in the outdoors, children are able to play and learn with new materials in a stimulating setting which often relates to real-life situations. This combination can offer limitless possibilities when facilitated correctly. Good Outdoor Learning allows for imaginative play and exploration. Activities should often be open-ended and flexible and so there are no expectations or pressures. Without constraints, imagination is enhanced which builds creativity and intelligence, both emotional and academic. Social and emotional abilities are developed as children role play with ‘what-if’ possibilities that strengthen their understanding of the world around them and the consequences to their actions both in terms of understanding concepts and in relations to risk and behaviour. Children are able to follow their unique interests and skills, which allows all children to shine regardless of their abilities.
During outdoor play, children can also learn empathy, cooperation, problem solving and leadership skills through investigative play and exploration with others and their environment. Children are not limited by the walls of a classroom or house with regard to space and imagination. The creative nature of Outdoor Learning also enhances cognitive skills, such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, and self-regulation. In addition, sessions which enable controlled risk-taking also contribute to further development of resilience.
In conclusion, outdoor experiential learning and play facilitates higher order thinking skills and emotional intelligence, which can then not only be transferred back in their nursery or school environment to help academic achievement, but also applied to life in general, so that the children can become confident, respectful and caring members of the community.
Alex Alves: Outdoor Learning Made Easy
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