Today I’m pleased to have Amanda from Learning Through Experiences guest posting on our site. Getting outdoors with your children is an important way to learn about nature and life. As parents, teachers, and homeschoolers, we must remember that fresh air and nature is not optional, but rather outdoor learning should be an integral part of teaching.
5 Reasons to Add Outdoor Learning
Where do you spend most of your day learning? For us, learning is an all day event because we use real life experiences.
I don’t plan lessons to teach my kiddos every day. Instead, I set up our environment to support learning the things they are passionate about along with the things I want them to learn. An important part of our learning environment is outside.
We constantly add outdoor learning to our days and here’s why…
No Set Up Required
Nature provides all you need. The only prep you need to do is open the door and step outside. Nature has all the tools for exploring, discovering, and learning new things. Most of our new topics of interest comes from exploring the great outdoors, plus we use nature to learn those important skills. We’ll use rocks to learn addition or sticks to learn how to form letters.
Every month, we use our Outdoor Learning for Preschoolers activity guide to learn about something different in nature. It always starts out with a book and a nature walk.
No setup required….read the book and step outside.
Creates Unpressured Learning Opportunities
Since nature provides everything your child needs to discover new learning opportunities, the learning is unpressured. It’s impossible for a child to step outside and not find something that excites them and piques their curiosity. Especially since things outside are always changing. It really is as simple as stepping outside and start exploring.
When your child asks a question, answer with a question.
Why is that bee on the flower?
Why do you think?
Then once you’re inside, you can add books, activities, and experiments to help deepen the learning and answer those questions.
Creates Lifelong Healthy Habits
Being out in nature has many health benefits such as an improved immune system, strong gross motor skills, and protecting mental well-being. When you start habits, like going outside, at a young age they tend to stick with your child throughout their whole life. Just getting outside for a quick 10 minute walk every day can develop a deep appreciation for nature that will carry with them throughout their whole life.
Outdoor Learning Strengthens Imagination
Nature doesn’t do the thinking for you.
You have a stick and a rock…
Now it’s up to your child to figure out what that stick and rock can be that day. A stick could be a wand, a sword, or pencil for writing in the mud. A rock could be food for a mud kitchen, a truck to drive around, or very special ruby for the princess.
And what about that ant? What is he doing inside his home? Since we can’t dig up the hill, you can invite your child to use their imagination.
I’m constantly asking my children “What do you think?” as we explore outside. We hypothesize and use our imagination. Many times we will use what’s going on around us to create stories. Sicily may see a bee flying around and ask what it’s doing. We’ll follow it as I create a story about what he’s doing.
Boosts Problem Solving & Critical Thinking Skills
What happens if your stick breaks?
Got stuck halfway up a tree and can’t figure out how to get down?
Found an ant hill and wondering what they are doing?
Come to a difficult hiking trail and not sure how to navigate it?
Being in nature sparks curiosity and provides problems that can only be solved by experiencing it yourself. Being in any of the situations above helps your child build their problem solving and critical thinking skills. And most importantly, the skills that they learn in nature are easily transferred to skills learned in the classroom.
Your challenge today is to head outside and do some exploring.
To make this challenge a bit easier, check out this post on Nature Walk Must Haves where you can download a list of 45 nature walk ideas.
Amanda is the owner of Learning Through Experiences where she helps families create stress-free learning environments. She is a former elementary and preschool teacher with over 11 years of experience. Amanda has 2 kiddos of her own, Sicily & Kade, who follow this exact child-led approach that she advocates. Amanda is the creator of Learning Through Experiences: A Child-Led Curriculum. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and relax in a bubble bath. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.