Outdoor Learning

At Noah’s Ark we have access to our own enclosed, safe outdoor space daily and although relatively small this time allows the children to engage in a variety of physical and exploratory activities whilst outside in the fresh air. We also regularly take the children to Wandsworth Common to explore and enjoy the wide open spaces of the common. When the weather is appropriate Sports lessons are taken on the Common and at Noah’s Ark Cobham Close the children have regular opportunities to be involved in a variety of tasks in the garden at Dolphin School.

The benefits of learning outside the classroom are endless. Being outside allows children to express themselves freely and unlike an indoor classroom, there are not any space constraints meaning children can jump, shout and explore to their hearts content. The sense of freedom playing outdoors brings is fantastic for a child’s development, both physically and mentally.

The importance of outside play in early years cannot be underestimated and below are just some of the many benefits it offers to children:

Encourages an Active Lifestyle

Children who learn to play outdoors are much more likely to continue to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, running and cycling as they get older. Given the number of gadgets and new technology available to us all, outdoor play is an extremely important factor in combatting an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Appreciation of Nature and the Environment

Learning in an outdoor environment allows children to interact with the elements around us and helps them to gain an understanding of the world we live in. They can experience animals in their own surroundings and learn about their habitats and lifecycles.

Develops Social Skills

Indoor spaces can often feel overcrowded to children and naturally, they may feel intimated in this type of environment. More space outdoors can help children to join in and ‘come out of their shells’. Giving children outdoor learning experiences offers them a chance to talk about what they have done with their friends, teachers and parents.

Encourages Independence

The extra space offered by being outdoors will give children the sense of freedom to make discoveries by themselves. They can develop their own ideas or create games and activities to take part in with their friends without feeling like they’re being directly supervised. They’ll begin to understand what they can do by themselves and develop a ‘can do‘ attitude, which will act as a solid foundation for future learning.

Understanding Risk

Being outdoors provides children with more opportunities to experience risk-taking. They have the chance to take part in tasks on a much bigger scale and complete them in ways they might not when they’re indoors. They can learn to make calculated decisions such as ‘should I jump off this log?’ or ‘can I climb this tree?’

In addition to the above key aspects of learning outdoors, access to outside space daily supports the following:-

  • Learning outside the classroom supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being.
  • Learning outside the classroom gives children contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons.
  • Playing and learning outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles.
  • Outdoor play also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
  • Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, both upwards and outwards, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities.
  • The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences which supports brain development and the creation of neural networks.
  • For many children, playing outdoors at their early years setting may be the only opportunity they have to play safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations.
  • Learning that flows seamlessly between indoors and outdoors makes the most efficient use of resources and builds on interests and enthusiasms.
  • Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment.