Young children are at such a critical stage of their development. Schools and teachers should be doing everything within their power to aid them in their journey to becoming a fully formed adult.
One particularly important thing to do is to blend play and learning together seamlessly. This will help them develop life skills as well as educational skills.
We at Red Monkey Play pride ourselves on doing this with a range of playground equipment, especially our outdoor classrooms. This allows playing outdoors and structured learning to almost become one.
Let’s explore why an outdoor classroom day can be so beneficial to a child’s development.
How Young Students Learn
To understand why outdoor learning and play are linked together, you must first understand exactly how young students learn and develop.
Structured learning environments work well with all ages but must be employed in different frequencies. The younger the student, the more holistically they learn which really emphasises why outdoor class time is important.
Learning holistically means they learn from everything all at the same time. Something they learn from one experience will connect with something else seemingly unrelated and form a connection which builds context and meaning – which is why it’s so important not to separate teaching into subject areas too early on.
There are a couple of core ways that students learn which can be combined together in a holistic experience. These are active and sensory learning opportunities. These can be combined together perfectly when conducting outdoor class sessions, be that in an earth pod or outdoor amphitheatre.
Children really benefit from simple, physical learning. This is due to children’s cognitive development. They find it hard to take on concepts until the brain develops more. This is why children learn particularly well by doing things and active tasks. Play is the best way of offering them these hands-on experiences.
Whether reconstructing real situations or building imaginary worlds, children can develop their thinking, language, imagination, speaking and listening skills through creative play, which prepares them for communicating and interacting effectively with others.
Not only do children need to develop their cognitive and physical abilities, but they also need to develop their senses.
Young children learn a huge amount through their senses which become finely tuned long before they may have mastered speaking or reasoning skills. This means that they learn a lot through senses before they know how to verbalise what they’ve learnt.
They need lots of relevant opportunities to explore the objects and materials around them with all of their senses. This is why outdoor classrooms prove to be so important.
These opportunities help them to construct and test theories, make decisions, overcome challenges, foster empathy, build resilience and solve problems for themselves so that they can become independent, confident and competent individuals.
How Being Outdoors Helps Young Learners
Being outdoors is the perfect place to stimulate both active learning and sensory learning. Most children at this age are naturally curious, and an outdoor environment really stimulates all their senses and lets their imagination go wild.
Time outdoors also provides a much-needed change of scenery. Attention spans in younger students tend to be quite low, so mixing things up and taking learning outdoors and away from the classroom really benefits them.
Outdoor learning allows children to enact all sorts of roleplay activities, play a number of different active games and explore all new textures, smells and sounds to develop their senses.
This provides the perfect holistic way for children to play and learn, rather than forcing them to learn through overly structured classroom time.
Following in Sweden’s Footsteps
Schools around the world are employing outdoor learning in their curriculum.
One major example is Sweden. Sweden possesses one of the world’s leading education systems, so we should all be taking note of what they’re doing and what they’re good at. Sweden is often considered the leader in outdoor learning, so clearly, this method of learning has merit.
Next year, the Swedish government will spend nearly £60 million on improving schoolyards across the country, making them more suitable for outdoor learning.
This huge investment by the leaders in European education means your schools should probably follow suit. Even their royal family is getting in on the act with the youngest member of the family, Princess Estelle who is 2 years old, enrolled for her first semester at a cooperative forest school.
This surge in popularity and funding makes Sweden’s use of outdoor learning a clear success. The outdoors, it turns out, is the perfect place for children to get vital life experience. It is also good for their health, which is one of the reasons why interest in outdoor education has increased considerably in Sweden in the past 20 years. It is the job of schools not only develop smart students but healthy ones too.
Examples of Great Outdoor Classrooms and Learning Spaces
There are plenty of great playground equipment products that can really facilitate outdoor learning.
Our Outdoor Shelters & Classrooms provide an engaging outdoor space for children to listen, learn and collaborate. Taking teaching outside keeps children engaged, and nothing gets a child more excited about learning than taking them out of their normal environment.
Our outdoor classrooms and sunshade/polycarbonate canopies for schools can also be used as shelters or reading areas where children can feel comfortable to relax.
One of the first examples is an earth pod.
These literally take the classroom outside, so you can still have a typical classroom structure but in a different setting. Versatile by nature, it can be transformed to suit many scenarios, a reading snug for quiet time or outdoor classroom for a sheltered and engaging learning zone outside of the traditional classroom.
Heating and plug sockets can be fitted into the pod, making it an option all year round. We understand the need for digital forms of media in modern teaching so we make sure you can have all the resources you need! These really allow for outdoor learning to become part of every day.
Outdoor Shelters and Structures
Shelters and wooden gazebos are also a great way of utilising outdoor space.
A gazebo is a perfect place for school outdoor learning or a hub for play and social enrichment. For example, they can be used as a great space for acting out scenes from their favourite movies.
A more classic outdoor structure, however, is a wooden treehouse.
These structures have always inspired outdoor games with their prominent appearance in pop culture, finding their way into famous children’s stories such as Peter Pan.
Our tree house is large enough to hold a class of children and the lookout platform allows them to observe their surroundings high within the trees. It’s perfect for when you want your children to have the chance to take in their area.
Get in Touch Today!
Does this sound like something your school can implement?
Get in touch today. We at Red Monkey Play can help complement your teachers perfectly and elevate your students to the next level.
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