This is the first blog on my journey of discovering more about one of my great life passions, the outdoors. What is it about the outdoors that makes us feel so good? Why does it relieve our stress and anxiety? How can I incorporate the outdoors into my class and become a more effective teacher? And more importantly, how can I help children become more effective learners?
These are some of the questions I will be attempting to answer in my blog posts. I will be using many sources and interviewing experts in the field.
The topic of outdoor education is something I have been interested in since my children were born and even more so once they entered the school system. I volunteered my time in my children’s cooperative preschool class once every two weeks for four years. Half the classroom time was designated to the outdoors, rain or shine or snow. I witnessed the powerful effects being in the outdoors had on all the children: they felt more powerful, more independent, and they were eager to explore the environment, not as their parents do (including me), but in a much more authentic way. It was like they had truly connected to nature in a profound way and discovered something that we, as adults, have lost.
The children were prepared for the outdoors and so did not feel the effects of the rain, snow or cold. They were ‘free’ to explore the outdoors as it is, in all it’s messy glory. They made mud tracks to drive their trucks on, made music on the music wall, found bugs, splashed in puddles, rode bikes, climbed trees, watered plants, gardened, visited farms and orchards, and even helped to dissect a salmon. Pure unadulterated exploration and curiousity about the environment they live in.
So how did being in the outdoors contribute to their learning? From my observations, I could see they were more interested in learning; they were engaged. Everything seemed easier when we were outside. They learned more and faster. They were happy and smiling.
And so began my passion for outdoor education.