Outdoor learning is so important and so good for us all, particularly children. It boosts so many areas; confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, physical skills, knowledge, and understanding. It increases children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, team working skills, and gives a positive attitude to learning.
For every child to boost their mental and physical well-being can only be a good thing, and we often underestimate how important it is for children to learn from their environment. Not only do outdoor learning activities provide children with a unique approach to education, but they also offer them a range of mental and physical advantages over classroom-based education that parents should consider.
At MK Preparatory School, we utilise our outdoor learning activities space to help develop many areas, including language skills, to offer sensory experiences and enhance our children’s well-being through new opportunities they may not otherwise have.
What Is Outdoor Learning?
Outdoor learning (aka nature-based learning) is any learning activity that takes place outdoors, allowing children to explore, discover and gain knowledge of their senses and about the world around them through practical experiences rather than more traditional methods like instruction or reading. It’s not just about being outdoors; outdoor learning activities also encourage physical activity and critical thinking skills as children interact with their surroundings in novel ways while appreciating nature and the environment.
Outdoor Learning at MKPS
At MK Preparatory School, our outdoor play areas have been adapted for all age groups and abilities; their careful design provides a suitable environment for children to engage and interact through imaginative play.
Each classroom for the younger children has its own outdoor area to take the inside out and incorporate activities straight into outdoor learning activities. They learn through play with various activities, both inside and outside, to help them reach their developmental goals within the EYFS seven areas of learning.
Each year group from 4 years old spends half a day a week at our Environmental Centre. Very few lessons for older children can’t be done outside where appropriate.
Introducing: The Bank
We have designed and developed a new area, “The Bank”. This outdoor learning and play area was designed and built on an unused, slightly steep slope behind our school. It offers opportunities that we don’t have anywhere else on our land. The school bank has a variety of ‘wild’ and ‘play’ zones designed to enhance these essential school experiences.
What Are The Benefits Of Outdoor Learning
- Increased Concentration – Studies have shown that when children are exposed to natural environments, they can better focus on tasks at hand due to decreased distractions present in these areas, allowing them to concentrate more deeply on what they are doing.
- Improved Physical Health – As previously mentioned, learning outside involves lots of outdoor physical activities, which can significantly improve physical health for children who may otherwise be indoors all day. This physical exercise can also boost mental focus and help children relax after periods of intense concentration.
- Enhanced Social Skills – Learning outside provides opportunities for interactions with other pupils, which helps build social skills like communication, collaboration, and confidence. Additionally, spending time outdoors and with wildlife has been known to give children greater empathy towards others, something that’s incredibly important in teaching children how to interact with each other.
Recreation outside is vital to children’s well-being, emotional and social, messy and all! There is no such thing as too much mess or bad weather! Just unsuitable clothing.
MKPS is an independent mixed day school that opens from 7.30am to 6.30pm for 46 weeks a year to cater for working parents, providing a rounded education both in and outdoors. If you want to explore further the outdoor learning facilities and activities MK Preparatory School utilises in their curriculum, you can read all about them here!