What is it?
Outdoor education usually refers to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Outdoor education programs sometimes involve residential or journey wilderness-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges and outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, ropes courses and group games. Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory, and practices of experiential education and environmental education. OSB aims to provide learning engagement that supports the development of self-esteem and confidence using natural and manmade environments.
At Outdoor School of Bangkok (Early Years), we believe in great beginnings. We know that hands-on experience in nature helps build healthier, smarter, and happier children. They learn skills outdoors that they cannot learn inside a classroom -:
HEALTHIER – physical: healthy bodies, stronger immune systems, among others
HAPPIER – emotional: better emotional resilience and management of emotional states, among others
SMARTER – mental: improved cognitive functioning, more relaxed/less stress, among others
In addition, the benefits of connecting to nature have been well documented in numerous scientific research studies and publications. Collectively, this body of research shows that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature. Following are 10 positive impacts of outdoor nature play *
Supports multiple development domains. Nature is important to children’s development in every major way—intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically (Kellert, 2005).
Supports creativity and problem solving. Studies of children in schoolyards found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green areas. They also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and intellectual development (Kellert, 2005).
Enhances cognitive abilities. Proximity to, views of, and daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities (Wells, 2000).
Improves academic performance. Studies in the US show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education support significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27% (American Institutes for Research, 2005).
Increases physical activity. Children who experience school grounds with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of nutrition, more civil to one another and more creative (Bell and Dyment, 2006).
Improves nutrition. Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (Bell & Dyment, 2008) and to show higher levels of knowledge about nutrition (Waliczek, & Zajicek, 2006). They are also more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives (Morris & Zidenberg-Cherr, 2002)
Improves eyesight. More time spent outdoors is related to reduce rates of nearsightedness, also known as myopia, in children and adolescents (American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2011).
Improves social relations. Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of- doors (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005).
Improves self-discipline. Access to green spaces, and even a view of green settings, enhances peace, self-control and self-discipline within inner city youth, and particularly in girls (Taylor, Kuo and Sullivan, 2001).
Reduces stress. Green plants and vistas reduce stress among highly stressed children. Locations with greater number of plants, greener views, and access to natural play areas show more significant results (Wells and Evans, 2003). *Selected excerpts from Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org/research/), Annotated Bibliographies of Research and Studies, Volumes 1 and 2 (2007).