How Learning Outside can Benefit Children

Published: 07/07/2016

Without even realising it, children can be educated on a range of core subjects just by experiencing the great outdoors! They can further their maths whilst measuring soil and potting plants, science whilst watching them grow and even master some vital life skills such as patience and responsibility when watering plants and keeping them alive. Here are eight great reasons why more learning should be taken outside the classroom!

1. Looking after nature teaches young people important life skills and improves their maths and science knowledge.  Children learning outdoors

When a child measures dirt or counts seeds this is not only enjoyable but also a unique way for them to improve their maths. Just by looking after nature and plants young children can also begin to understand the virtue of patience and responsibility, as well as improving their science knowledge. Alise McGregor, owner of child care centre Little Newtons, says; 'Potting plants or flowers is a fun and easy way to get kids more involved in gardening and the outdoors, plus it's really educational! Measuring dirt teaches beginning math skills, including fractions - half, whole, quarter, etc. Parents should take the time to talk about the science of how plants grow while potting and watering plants. Potted plants can also teach kids about responsibility and patience.'

2. Enjoying the outdoors helps children deal with stress.

Children learning outdoors

Dr. Chester Goad, University Administrator who works with students with disabilities, says; 'While gardening offers benefits to everyone, it offers significant benefits to students with learning differences, social difficulties, anxiety, and even trauma. Gardens offer a safe, inviting place for students to jump in and literally get their hands dirty, in a non-threatening atmosphere, and can incorporate opportunities for both cooperative learning through group projects or individual activities. Physically, one great benefit is the fine motor exercise involved in planting, nurturing and caring for plants. Emotionally, gardening has potential to provide for a sense of routine or low sensory relaxation. Of course the anticipation of planting and growing food or flowers can result in positive feedback, and students who experience success by realising the fruits of their labours, develop positive character traits like patience and cooperation, as well as increases in self-esteem.' 3. Taking care of nature teaches children the value of water. Children learning the water cycle from the outdoors

Being in the outdoors allows children to fully appreciate and understand water which can therefore help them to understand the water cycle! Louise Sattler, School Psychologist and avid gardener, says; 'I truly believe that gardening teaches children the value of water. Water is a necessary element to help things grow - botany meets chemistry!'

4. Gardening teaches children that there is more than one way to do something.  Children understand there is more than one way to do something from the outdoors.

Jann Fujimoto, Speech Therapist for Speech Works, says; 'Gardening teaches children that there is more than way to do something. A child will learn that there are many different ways to accomplish a task in gardening. In order to prepare the soil, a roto-tiller or a garden hoe could be used. To get rid of pests, chemicals could be sprayed or organic materials can be applied. A garden hose, dripline or watering can could be used to water the plants. By gardening, a child will learn that a situation can be approached from different perspectives. This knowledge, if applied in the classroom, would allow a child to wonder how else the project, problem or presentation could be tackled.'

5. Being in the outdoors engages children more.

Children engage more learning outdoors

Priscille d'Arifat-Koenig, School & Career Coach, says; 'Learning outdoors is much more hands on and engages the children?s senses and feelings and will allow them to make connections when they get back to their learning material. Secondly, it is something that is interesting to them and therefore motivates them to want to investigate and know more. Being curious and asking questions is a skill that is very helpful in any learning situation. And as it is an activity that usually allows them to relax and enjoy themselves, it prepares a favorable terrain for them to be receptive to new learning.'

6. You can interconnect subjects naturally by being outside with so much around you.  You can interconnect subjects when learning outdoors

Stephanie Kichler, National Education Manager for The Kitchen Community, says; 'A school garden connects easily to an array of subjects, including: science, math, engineering, technology, history, reading, and writing. Not only does a school garden provide an opportunity for those subjects to be taught, but it allows teachers to teach these core classroom subjects as interconnected topics. The garden provides two unique opportunities for teachers and students: an environment for interdisciplinary subjects to be taught along side inquiry based learning.'

7. It's been proven to increase test results.

  Test results prove children learn better outdoors

Alison Risso, Director of Marketing and Communications from REAL School Gardens, discusses how teaching outdoors has improved results; 'Here at REAL School Gardens, we build outdoor classrooms in low-income schools and spend time training teachers anywhere how to use their school's gardens to improve academics. We have seen really impressive results with teacher effectiveness and student engagement improving, and standardised test score pass rates increasing 12-15%.'

8. Teaches children problem solving.

Children and gardening

Mandy Curry, Co-Founder & CEO of  Healthy Kids Inc. says; 'We're increasingly finding that children (even teens) are particularly interested in gardening and are asking to garden in school. While the garden is a hands-on opportunity to learn about math, science, and reading, we find that the children are most interested in using it to learn real life skills. Children (and teens) use the garden as an opportunity to learn where their food comes from, how to strategise their growing plan to feed their classroom, how to solve unexpected problems that may come up with bugs, disease or weather, how to time plantings so that the salsa bar is ready to harvest at the same, time, and then how to cook what they have recently harvested.'   For more information head over to LOtC. 

Not all learning has to be done in a classroom. After discussing this with experts we can see that the great outdoors offers some fantastic learning opportunities for children and teaches some vital life skills. If you would like to offer some insight on this topic then leave a comment below or chat to us over on Twitter @TigerSheds. 

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