The Reception class love their weekly ‘Out and About’ sessions that integrate learning and outdoor experiences and provide relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors. Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous; it also helps pupils learn by experience and improve their confidence, whilst also appreciating and learning about the natural environment. 

In recent years there has been a cultural shift in society that has reduced the access to and use of the outdoors for many young children. Contributory factors include; increased fear among adults in relation to child safety and technological advances leading to an overwhelming prominence of more indoor activities such as television, tablets and computer games. National education charity, ‘Learning through Landscapes’ and ‘Project Dirt’, highlighted in their 2018 report that 81% of teachers in the UK don’t think there is enough learning taking place outdoors. 

Sir David Attenborough, who is a Patron of ‘Learning through Landscapes’, has commented on why he believes the natural environment is a positive learning environment: “Natural outdoor environments can offer a very special kind of learning experience: the opportunity for discovery and learning through touching and feeling, the chance to explore and take risks, the stimulations of the fresh air and limitless skies.”

Timetabled ‘Out and About’ sessions provide our pupils with time outdoors to express themselves in a different manner than they would exhibit in the classroom. It incorporates skills and team work and applies these to outdoor situations. Mrs Debra Baines, Reception teacher, explained the concept of ‘Out and About’ and how the surroundings and facilities at the Prep School lend themselves to outdoor learning:

We try and take something that is being taught in the classroom and adapt it to the outdoors”. In some cases, however, Mrs Baines takes inspiration from the pupils likes and interests and designs a session based around these. “Recently the pupils requested a session focused on animals. With this in mind, we went out and created dens for their chosen animals, which generated discussion on what the animals would require to be comfortable, to eat and be healthy.”

We believe that providing our youngest pupils with outdoor learning opportunities will support them in developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This combination of practicality paired with creativity helps to improve a child’s self-confidence, both in and out of the classroom.  

The outdoor space and facilities at School certainty help when it comes to ‘Out and About’. “The class are provided with waterproofs and wellies so we can brave the elements! We try not to let the weather disrupt our outdoor learning opportunities,” Mrs Baines explained. “With the horses, goats and other animals on site at School, we are fortunate that we don’t have to travel far for some wonderful learning experiences.”

The national guidance for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) supports outdoor learning and places it at an equal value to indoor, classroom-based learning. Supporting the development of a healthy and active lifestyle, through the physical activity and freedom of movement, not only helps with natural growth and motor skills but supports pupils who learn best through doing. 

Ultimately, the positive outcomes from outdoor learning all stem from the overwhelming factor that Mrs Baines simply states: “Above all else, ‘Out and About’ is fun!

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