There has been much research focused on the outdoors, outdoor play, and outdoor education including sustainability and recreation activities.
‘Outdoor learning is an important and integral part of a high-quality early childhood education curriculum’.
There are many skills encompassed within the term outdoor play or outdoor learning.
The term outdoor learning is a broad expression that can encompass play, education, skills, sustainability and the natural environment and may be referred to as experiential learning for children which takes place within the outdoors.
outdoor learning has its importance for children’s development, the safety and risk involved in children’s outdoor learning and the anxiety that this causes for carers, gender issues relating to how boys and girls use the outdoor learning environment, and geographical, community and social perspectives focusing on the impact that they can have on a child’s involvement with outdoor learning.
The importance of outdoor learning and the beliefs that it contributes to children’s development and progress date back to Rousseau (1762) and Froebel (1826).
These beliefs have been continued, explored and researched in depth with new emphasis being placed on Forest Schools and outdoor learning.
Philosophies and theories about outdoor learning tend to focus on the natural environment and the effect that this can have on children’s development.
Rousseau was one of the first people who advocated developmentally appropriate education.
Rousseau (1762) also wrote of the importance of growing up in the countryside and how this would create a more natural and healthy environment than the city.
Froebel (1826) advocates the need for children to be provided with places to play where they can be nurtured and developed through experiences with the natural environment.
promoting the need for children to be in the outdoor environment.
‘The nursery school’ and ‘The nursery school garden’ articulates the need for children to have free movement and experiences within the natural world around them.
Much attention has also been given to the need for children to play and learn in the natural environment and the important role that outdoor learning plays in children’s growth, development and social skills.
natural outdoor environments are good for the health and development of children and the improvement that playing outside has on children’s concentration, behaviour and speaking and listening.
children benefit in other physical ways from playing in the outdoors and the natural environment.
Positive effects and implications on motor development such as balance and co-ordination which will help children master their own bodies’ abilities in relation to the natural physical environment have also been recognised
outdoor learning can support children’s development and is a natural way of learning in an environment which is full of sensory experiences.
outdoor learning can give depth to the curriculum and can enhance children’s physical, social and emotional development.
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