Outdoor Learning In Action.
Learning need not take place solely within educational buildings. Outdoor time often provides the most memorable learning experiences and helps children to make sense of the world around them by putting their learning into a meaningful context.
Recent studies have highlighted some benefits of outdoor learning for young children:
- higher levels of conversational language.
- greater independence.
- improved health and sleeping patterns.
- greater physical competence and agility.
- improved time focus on activities and more concentration.
- a greater understanding of nature and the environment.
- improved social skills, involvement and initiative.
We believe that every child should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development and that is why we have made this one of our ‘Key Priorities’ at St Mary’s. The outdoor environment has massive potential for providing learning opportunities. We are extremely fortunate to be set in large grounds and surrounded by an environment rich in opportunities and we make full use of our local area, including the park, to enhance our educational provision. In addition, we are investing in ensuring that our classrooms allow for secure indoor-outdoor freeflow education, so that this is accessible to all children throughout their time with us.
To add to the tree house we built in 2018, we have opened an outdoor classroom in 2019 to enthuse the children and provide an alternative learning experience designed to enrich their aspirations and environmental awareness. Also in 2019 we opened Colin’s Corner ,a reading cabin accessed by the children every break simply to read together and catch up. Then through the Covid years we continued to expand our outdoor provisions, recognising the value of outdoor play to mental health, with the building of an school pond in our wild meadow field and the opening of a MUGA play area and climbing frame for Key Stage 1 and 2.
The outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from Early Years through to Year 4. Our outdoor learning experiences are delivered through a combination of school-based outdoor learning, visits to other places and residential programmes.
The journey through education for a child at St Mary’s will include a series of planned, quality outdoor learning experiences. Learning outdoors is part of our wide range of practical approaches to developing skills. Opportunities for outdoor learning exist within and across all curriculum areas and help to develop personal and social skills, communication, problem solving, thinking skills and teamwork, as well as English, Mathematics and all other curriculum areas.
Outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors. Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous and helps children learn by experience and grow as confident and responsible citizens who value and appreciate the natural environment.