Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nature Walk: Helping Elementary Students Learn in the Outdoors

Getting elementary students outside is beneficial on several levels. The fresh air is good for the body, peaceful surroundings encourage focus, and there is a lot that nature can teach us. The best locations are away from buildings and in an area where your outdoor forays will not distract other classes in the school. Be sure to take along a field guide to learn about different plants and animals, but give the elementary students opportunities to explore and learn in their own ways as well.

Benefits of Nature

Children spend less time immersed in nature today than they once did. Some of this is due to the growth of residential areas, and some are related to advances in technology, but the result is an effect on children’s learning patterns. Exploring the area, collecting insects, or discovering the different kinds of flowers, children gain valuable knowledge about flora and fauna as they apply academic studies to real-world situations. Other benefits can include a reduced obesity, greater attention to details, or incidental progress in math skills and personal vocabulary.

Helping Children Focus

Becoming a part of the natural world has been shown to have positive psychological effects. Elementary students tend to be able to focus on academics studies better after spending time in nature, scoring better on memory tests and concentration. The reasons behind the increased clarity are still being studied, but the results have proven to be more than coincidence can explain: A couple of outdoor classes throughout the day can make a big difference.

Nature Science Through Exposure

Of course, nature does have a lot to teach children. Schools can team up with state forests, wildlife refuges, or other animal sanctuaries to help children learn about the plants and animals in their region and the importance of preserving habitats for animals to live in. A butterfly hunt in the city park or leisurely strolls along multi-use paths are both good ways to expose your elementary aged children to the complexities of life, its cycles, and how different species depend on each other for survival.

Nature as Part of the Curriculum

Holding classes outdoors is as old as education itself. Before there were schools, young children tagged along with their parents and picked up information about nature and their world throughout the day. Ancient scholars are said to have given lectures in public places such as parks or near streams or pools. 

When children are given more opportunity to experience nature, they are better able to understand the bonds between living things, historical advances in science, and much more. The reasons for encouraging elementary education outdoors are numerous while the disadvantages are few.

The Montessori School of Pleasanton emphasizes teaching elementary students through nature and outdoor learning.  Learning through our surroundings helps students better understand the world around them and how all things work together.  To learn more about Montessori Education, contact us today.

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