Is your child unhappy about having to go to school? You are not alone. At some point in their lives, every parent will hear their child complain about their school experience. Some kids will merely shrug and say that school “simply sucks,” while others may gripe about having too much homework or not learning anything at all from their lessons.
A recent survey of schoolchildren found that less than 5% liked learning, and about 23% only liked school because they had break times or recess. Meanwhile, nearly half of all students enjoyed school because they got to see their friends there, while almost 20% loved that they could engage in sports or watch others play.
If conventional teaching methods and excessive homework are causing your child to dislike school, it may be time to spark their interest in learning differently. One way to do so is by letting them participate in outdoor education. By being in the Great Outdoors, your child may learn valuable lessons which benefit their overall well-being. Here is everything you should know about nature-based learning and why you should consider it for your child.
What is Nature Based Learning?
Nature-based learning or outdoor education is all about learning skills, values, and the world through real-life engagement with nature. In outdoor classes, kids may learn anything from identifying local flora and fauna to setting up a campsite. They may also be encouraged to participate in outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, fishing, or canoeing, among others.
For some people, outdoor education seems too hippie-ish or too much fun to be a valid method to teach young minds. But when its various benefits include social, mental, and physical outcomes, it is easy to see why more parents are willing to let their children participate in outdoor learning classes. The daycares offer walking excursions to local libraries, parks, and other neighborhood attractions to encourage outdoor education and exercise.
Enhanced Physical Health
Today’s kids have easy access to tech devices and the Internet. As a result, most kids are spending far too much time indoors as they choose to watch videos or play games on their smartphone or tablet instead of going outside to play. Spending too much time in front of a screen has been linked to poor health. Studies show that spending over two hours a day in front of a screen increases the risk of developing hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and metabolic syndrome in children. If you want your child to be physically fit, advise them to unplug and give nature-based learning a try.
Outdoor learning enables your child to get some sun and fresh air, which are vital to health. Moreover, they get their daily dose of exercise since they are encouraged to be active and move around. Children need 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily, and outdoor learning allows them to meet the required amount of exercise to thrive.
Better Mental Health
Many children struggle with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, eating disorders, and the like. Therapy and medication may help your little one cope, but nature-based learning can also reduce mental health symptoms and improve a child’s frame of mind.
In studies conducted across 61 countries, being in nature can instantly improve mood and spark changes in attitude and behaviors. Being in the presence of greenery also relieves stress, enhances focus and attention span, and improves the way we connect with other people.
Improves Social Skills
Apart from nature therapy, outdoor education also gives your child the opportunity to improve their social skills. They are encouraged to talk freely and ask questions and advice. Children will have opportunities to communicate since they have to work with other kids to accomplish specific tasks, such as building a campfire or gathering herbs for cooking. As such, this improves not only their communication skills, but it also promotes leadership skills and the ability to empathize. Moreover, nature-based learning also enables children to be more tolerant and accepting of each other’s differences, so they become kinder and more open-minded adults.
Being out in nature has numerous benefits for overall well-being, so more children should experience its healing benefits by participating in nature-based classes. Let your child discover the wonders of nature with their peers, and see how much happier they will be while they learn.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.