We know that there are so many different ways to learn, and much of that learning can take place from the environment around us. The nature vs. nurturing learning process can be one of the most beneficial ways children learn.
And you can use the great outdoors to help. When nurturing learning is taking place, it is something like – you telling the child that their food is freshly out of the oven and too hot to eat. The child most often trusts the adult and won’t try to eat the food.
Younger children have more trouble with this, and nature learning comes from them trying to eat the food anyway. The food is hot and causes the child to wince or get upset.
Both nurture and nature played an important role here.
Next time you might not need to remind them the food is hot; they will assume it is hot because they previously had an experience.
When children are allowed to explore, they learn quickly what is hot, what is cold, what is spicy, and that if you chase a wasp, it might chase you back.
While some things can be better learned in the home, when the weather allows for it, it has been shown that there are a lot of benefits for children to use outside, like one giant learning tool.
Most of the time, adults could also do with a little bit of outdoor learning too.
But what are the benefits of studying outside and buying an outdoor couch to facilitate? Or kicking off your shoes and touching the grass for a while?
Even children who seem unwilling to take part or appear not to want to learn – there is a part of them that is curious and ready to absorb lots of information. When children aren’t confined to single seats in a classroom and are free to move and explore as they want to – they have a fuller sense of freedom and autonomy.
When children are allowed to explore outside, looking under rocks, snapping twigs, planting seeds, and something falling down – they are learning problem-solving, balance, confidence, and how to trust and improve their own abilities.
Many of these qualities are also the ones that most job roles expect of their applicants.
Playing in the great outdoors doesn’t just allow children to explore the outside, but they can also start to build a picture of where they fit and belong in the world.
Although it has always been the case, there are more studies to show that both adults and children benefit from being outside. It’s not just the physical benefit of expending energy and fresh air. There are mental health benefits to being outside for a while each day.
It has been shown that when children are free to play outside, and it is part of their learning environment, they have less stress and higher well-being.
One of the things about traditional education is that young children can feel the effects of stress due to examinations and the requirement to score specific grades. Being compared with classmates can have a detrimental impact on how a child feels about learning.
When given an outdoor learning environment, stress levels are considerably lower. A study in 2003 but Wells and Evans stated that in children who played and studied outside, in green areas with green plants, there was a reduction in stress levels in what was classed as ‘highly-stressed children.
Although it is as little as 10 minutes outdoors that can help to lower your blood pressure and improve both mood and focus – the more time spent outside, the better.
Getting outside and burning off some excess energy is excellent and can help children relax and sleep in the evenings. But it’s more than that!
The more a child is outside, the more they will encounter new things like birds, bugs, and sometimes other wildlife too. It can teach children that sometimes you need to explore and enjoy a little bit more gently and a little more quietly.
When out surrounded by trees and green plants, the chances are even the wildest child will become a little bit calmer. In color psychology, green is said to be refreshing and calming.
We associate green with luck, nature, health, and freshness – and since green has a short wavelength, it is considered relaxing and cool.
Gree is also one of the most effortless colors for us to see; colors with a higher wavelength mean our eyes need to adjust to them. Green and blue are processed quickly and don’t take any serious adjustments from the body.
Not only is green relaxing and calming, but it is also said to help concentration. There are some studies that are showing adults who work in offices that have green within the interior have higher job satisfaction.
All of this can culminate in children being calmer and happier when they are free to learn or explore the great outdoors.
As you can see from the thing about behavior, green is shown to give an improved concentration full stop that improved concentration and can be a huge factor in having a higher academic performance.
There have been many studies about the effect of outdoor education on children, and during those studies, they found the group of children who were allowed to have an outdoor education routine consistently had higher scores than those children who had stayed in classrooms.
Well, having high schools might not be the highest on your list; it was shown that the children who attended outdoor school or had Outdoor Learning opportunities had Tesco’s that were 27% higher than those that didn’t.
We, humans, seek the great outdoors; it’s called the natural biophilic tendency. And like most things in life, they can actually be a deficit of this. This is known as a nature deficit disorder, and that simply means that we are not connecting with the nature around us.
As adults, we often find that we go from home to commute and to the office and spend very little time outdoors. This type of behavior often rubs off on our children going from the home to the learning environment and then home again; using too much technology and not getting out enough can have detrimental effects.
Usually, if that happens when traditional education is in place, children who are homeschooled often have a much higher Outdoors to indoors ratio.
In some countries, it is estimated that children spend less time outdoors than some prison inmates, and that should be argument enough to make sure that you can get out whenever you can.
The more often you allow the great outdoors to be used as an educational tool, the less likely it is that you and your child will get a nature deficit disorder.
There are some things that you can do outside and some things that you should do inside. The outdoors presents a huge range of things.
If you are lucky enough to live by a nature reserve that’s filled with animals, going and seeing larger four-legged beasts can be incredible. It will help your child learn to be quiet when they get near any horses or carers, so there’s no shouting or speaking too loudly, causing the animals to run away.
It also means that they start to learn a little bit more about creepy crawlies and other bugs. Watching butterflies land on flowers nearby is always a magical experience, so the more your child learns to live in harmony with those things around it, the better.
This is a real-world experience and something we should all have; however, if you don’t spend time outdoors, you’ll be missing out on all of these amazing experiences. And these are life experiences that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter how old.
What could be a more important reason than having fun while learning? When your child is exploring nature and asking a million different questions about why the leaves are a specific shape or why they are soft and furry, or how butterflies arrive in the world, this can be an amazing opportunity for you and your child to connect and learn together.
The truth is that we don’t always do all the answers to these questions, but it can present the opportunity to research them together.
And the more you get outside and reduce your own blood pressure, the more fun you’re going to have too. Creating this wonderful atmosphere where going outside and exploring no matter the weather can always be fun and something that everyone can learn from.
The great outdoors is one of life’s biggest teachers, from splashing in puddles to watching leaves fall, learning about animals being born, and simply enjoying the wind blowing through the trees.
Not only that but it is a great place to study from books.
If you need some tips and resources about making the great outdoors work for you, then check out: Outdoor School is Officially In Session!.