Outdoor Learning for Children
Outdoor learning in Singapore has become popular in education because it is a great way to improve the learning journey of children.
Classroom learning is a proven way to provide foundational knowledge for children. Studies prove that exposing children to outdoor learning through play and exploration will enhance what they have learned in class.
What is an outdoor learning
Simply put, outdoor learning is when you learn things outside!
You see children can learn about numbers, colours, and animals in a classroom setting. They can only see the words and the picture in the books.
But when we add outdoor learning, the teachers and parents can show their children a dog in the park, learn about colours by looking at flowers, or count the number of petals on a flower.
The children will discover more and enhance what they have learned in the classroom by going outdoors.
Singapore Outdoor Learning Initiative for Children
The Singapore government has implemented many initiatives to encourage outdoor learning for early childhood education, including in-depth studies on outdoor learning and play benefits.
In May 2020, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) launched several new initiatives to improve preschool teachers’ professional development.
One of their main recommendations was to create natural environments in schools to feel outside while staying in school.
The Outdoor Learning Resource Fund, for example, is a program designed to help schools develop outdoor learning programs.
The resource fund may be used to acquire additional teaching and learning resources to assist in creating green spaces within the school compound, outdoor learning sites, and outside learning facilitators.
As parents, we should support our educators and schools in developing these areas of learning.
Benefits of outdoor learning
Outdoor learning has many proven benefits not only for children but it is also beneficial for educators. Here are some of the key benefits of outdoor learning:
Outdoor learning promotes the growth of cognitive understanding, creativity and problem-solving ability
Outdoor learning provides an opportunity for children to socialize and collaborate, which helps them develop interpersonal skills.
For educators, outdoor learning increases their creativity as they constantly need to think of new outdoor activities that will engage students’ minds and keep them active at the same time.
Teachers can easily combine outdoor lessons and activities that teach preschoolers about letters and numbers. Outdoor games and puzzles like letter hunts (a variation of the classic treasure hunt game) help students learn these concepts outside the realm of the classroom.
In addition, creating an outdoor learning environment also allows for more flexible teaching hours, which benefits educators because they do not need to be confined to a work schedule or location.
Outside play with children enhances socialization abilities and builds strong friendships with other kids
Playing outdoors allows better development of social skills for young children, and it also helps them express their thoughts better.
Outdoor playing usually allows children to interact with each other differently. Children will learn to express themselves in a different setting and develop empathy amongst friends.
A three-legged race, for example, is a simple game that helps kids develop essential skills such as listening, communicating, comprehending, collaboration, and friendship.
You don’t get these skills easily in a classroom setting.
Outside learning allows children to satisfy their fundamental requirements for freedom, adventure, innovation and risk-taking
Children are born to be explorers. The outdoor world is an exciting place for kids to explore and create things with their own hands.
Exploration is their primary tool of communication before they learn alphabets and words. Outdoor learning fulfils their inquisitive nature and helps build their understanding of the world.
Exploring the world around them also improves their observational skills and creativity because they will always develop new outdoor activities every time they play outside.
Self-esteem and confidence can be strengthened by participating in outdoor learning
Children will always feel better about themselves when they accomplish outdoor activities because outdoor learning gives them the chance to develop their competence and physical strength.
They can also feel proud of themselves after winning outdoor games with or against their peers.
There are many outdoor activities such as soccer, running in a park, cycling, or swimming that children can engage in when they play outside.
These outdoor sports strengthen body muscles and promote cardiovascular health, and allow them to learn how to work together with other kids and achieve a common goal.
Outdoor learning is beneficial to boosting brain development and improving cognitive functions
Outdoor play also helps improve academic performance by giving students opportunities to explore and play with new toys, which can help improve their ability to learn.
For instance, outdoor playing helps children discover how language works because outdoor games are very rich in vocabulary.
Such games help them discover fun ways of learning while also strengthening their creative mindsets through outdoor activities.
3 Ways to Encourage Outdoor Learning by Parents
There are many ways that parents can encourage outdoor learning. Parents can encourage outdoor learning by playing outdoor games with their kids, going on outdoor hikes, and taking their kids to outdoor parks.
When parents play outdoor games with their children, it encourages outdoor learning because these outdoor activities promote many social skills such as courage, creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.
Outdoor playing also allows children to express themselves in a different setting and develop empathy amongst friends.
Play outdoor games with your children
As parents, pick up a few outdoor games or sports with your children. Outdoor activities/sports like badminton are inexpensive to set up and get kids out of the house.
Other outdoor activities like football, cycling, and outdoor board games encourage outdoor play among children of different age groups.
You can also take this chance to not only bond with your children, but you can live a healthier lifestyle too!
Take your kids on outdoor hikes
Parents can also help outdoor learning by going on outdoor hiking trails with their children.
Visiting nature reserves like Labrador Park or Sungei Buloh Wetland, where the children can discover the beauty of nature.
Hiking at nature reserves can help children explore outdoor learning areas more than just walking around the neighbourhood or playing indoors.
Take your kids to outdoor parks
Finally, parents can encourage outdoor learning by bringing their children to outdoor parks.
It should not surprise you that many national parks in Singapore are built near your place. Most of these parks will include playgrounds and walking trails.
Bringing them to parks allows children to discover how nature works and improve their mental and physical health through exercising in open spaces.
If you live in HDB flats, the neighbourhood playgrounds and even the void decks can be an excellent place for your children.
The outdoor environment is getting increasingly popular for outdoor learning. Children can engage in many outdoor activities, and outdoor play is beneficial to their development.
Parents should try playing outdoor games with their children, going on outdoor hikes, or taking them to outdoor parks.
Not only will outdoor play enhance your relationship with your children, but outdoor learning is also valuable to improving academic performance and overall wellness.
- Singapore Preschool – PRS Newsletter
- The Importance of Developing Social Skills for Children
- 5 Tips on the Importance of Nature in Kids’ Childhood Development
- How to Develop EQ and IQ in Children?
- The Power of Enrichment Classes for Preschoolers
- Why the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in Children is Vital to Development
- The Importance of Arts and Crafts for Kids in Early Childhood Education
- Outdoor Learning for Children
- How Parents Can Nurture Early Learning in Singapore
- How a Preschool is Essential for Early Childhood Development in Singapore