‘Outdoor learning complements indoor learning and is equally important…It encompasses all that children do, see, hear or feel in their outdoor space. This includes the experiences that practitioners create and plan for, the spontaneous activities that children initiate and the naturally occurring reoccurring opportunities linked to the seasons, weather and nature’
Early Years Foundation Stage – Effective Practice
The outdoor classroom can support and enhance learning in all areas of the curriculum, and has many benefits for children of all ages. Playing and learning outdoors helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles.
Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities; this 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. Oxford University Childcare Services understands the importance of a stimulating and supportive outdoor environment and has invested in upgrading the gardens of three of their nurseries over the last two years.
In addition to a suitable outdoor space and resources, it is vital that children are supported by the presence of enthusiastic adults who understand the importance and unique nature of outdoor learning.
Outdoor play promotes a sense of confidence and well-being in children. It also supports their problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
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.
Bright Horizons facilitate outdoor learning at all of their nurseries on a daily basis and will be further enhancing the outdoor learning experiences provided at each of the University nurseries with the introduction of Forest School.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education. It is an inspirational process, which offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or other natural environment with trees. Bright Horizons staff members from each of the University nurseries have enrolled on Forest School Level 3 training, which will qualify them to be Forest School Leaders. This training begins in March and we plan to roll out the Forest School experience in all of our nurseries by the end of the year.