Get Outside: The Benefits of the Great OutdoorsNov 29, 2023
Origins’ nature-based curriculum encourages families to take learning outside whenever they can. For many who experienced a traditional school environment, blending education and being outside may not come naturally, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges that may come with outdoor learning: inclement weather, unpredictable variables like other people or animals, more possible distractions – the list goes on. Truthfully, though, children (and all people) are meant to be in and connected to their natural environment. Most children are drawn to the outdoors, and are actually most calm and focused in a natural setting versus an indoor setting.
But how can you ensure you “fit in the curriculum” if you prioritize being outdoors? Of course, you can simply teach lessons and do academic work outside as a way to do both. However, it is important to remember that one of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility that comes with it. It’s okay to engage with the outdoors in a way that doesn’t look traditional when it comes to learning, especially when you consider all of the benefits of giving children plenty of time to be outdoors.
What are the benefits of playing, or simply being, outside? Read on for just a few!
Builds 21st Century Skills
Outdoor environments are constantly changing, while indoor environments are often static. The dynamic nature of a natural setting encourages children to engage and strengthen skills in critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. For example, if a child is playing in the woods building a fort, they need to figure out many things: what materials they need, where to find and gather them, how to transport them to the spot they are building, how to construct them in a way that is stable. If they are doing this with other children, they are also building teamwork, collaboration, and negotiation skills.
Allows for Physical Development
Additionally, being outside allows children to develop their physical competence. While playing indoors often employs mostly fine motor skills, outdoor play usually demands both gross and fine motor abilities. This type of play is important for children’s developing coordination, strength, and dexterity, and can lead to increased confidence in a wide variety of areas. Children who have comfort and understanding of their physical abilities are usually more able to keep their bodies safe, and understand their physical boundaries.
Increases Connection with Their Natural Environment
Many children have an innate love for the natural world: animals, plants, feeling grass on their feet and sunshine on their faces. Allowing children to be outdoors for extended periods of time, in all types of weather, develops their natural curiosity for the outdoor world. Children learn so much through experiential observation: seeing the life cycle of a plant by visiting it throughout the seasons, understanding how wild animals’ patterns change depending on the time of year, knowing how to dress for certain weather to maintain comfort. All of these understandings, although perhaps not academic, are important. We are all part of the natural world, and knowing how the flora and fauna around us shift and change is essential in learning how to take care of our surroundings, and ourselves.
No matter what kind of weather you currently are experiencing, we hope you find ways to engage in outdoor learning this month – whether that includes any type of curriculum or not! Remembering the importance of outdoor play for children is helpful for them in so many ways, and often leads to increased focus for academics, too.