Connection with nature helps develop our students’ brains, bodies, and characters for later life.
Daily exposure to the natural beach environment has lasting effects on our bodies and minds. Research shows that nature exposure has numerous long-term benefits.
BENEFITS OF LEARNING IN NATURE
At Victorious International British School, we include outdoor learning as part of our curriculum through local excursions, provision within our garden setting, and daily opportunities to a quiet part of L’Olla beach. Learn how learning opportunities in nature can benefit children intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.
What are the Intellectual Benefits?
The natural world is a giant, open-ended learning laboratory. Children are innate scientists and love to explore and experience what our world has to offer. Imagine the senses that are evoked through regular trips to the beach including sounds, sights and smells; not to mention the questions and problems that are naturally provoked through discovery, creativity and endless opportunities.
Interacting with a natural environment such as a beach, sparks imagination and curiosity in children. For example, they may wonder where the ocean’s horizon leads to, or they might judge the weight of some rocks while balancing them as a tower.
There are also many National Curriculum opportunities when learning through nature. Here are just a few examples:
- Geographical studies
- Weather observations and recording data
- Real experiential learning about animals, insects and their habitats
- Science – materials (water, rocks, sand, plastics)
- Environmental issues and sustainability
- Light and shadow
- Wellbeing, mindfulness and happiness
I have witnessed the beautiful calming effect of the quiet beach. Children feel at peace, they play quietly and are in a constant state of awe and wonder. The natural environment helps them to interact with peers and friends in a peaceful manner. In the natural world, children often collaborate to make up games and rules because there are no prescribed sets of instructions, fostering creativity, leadership and collaboration.
How the Environment Benefits Emotions
Think of your own happy place. More often that not, it is one that is natural. Nature reminds us of the bigger picture and helps relieve stress, tension or worry. This is the same for children when they are free to explore, run and play – all delightful forms of self-expression that are often restricted indoors.
Furthermore, nature brings out children’s nurturing qualities. Many children slow down and sustain their ability to focus, through watching a spider crawl, filling a hole with water or spending time engaging with friends. Several studies have found that exposure to nature can reduce symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.
What are the Physical Benefits?
The fresh sea air is always invigorating and offers endless opportunities for physical activity, which, in turn, builds upon strength, stamina, flexibility and fitness. Exposure to sunlight means children absorb vitamin D which has many positive benefits, including contributing to a strong immune system. Our pupils will wear hats and sunscreen to protect themselves from UV rays.
Nurturing our Nature
In addition to the individual benefits gained through learning in nature, there is a collective benefit shared by all. Our children are future guardians of the earth. In order to raise adults who are passionate about protecting the and preserving our planet, they must first develop a deep love for it. In giving them the opportunity to explore the wonder, awe and magic of the natural world, we are connecting them to our planet; their planet; planet Earth.
Bright Horizons Education Team