Today, the life of a child is highly scheduled. Many of their after school activities take place indoors, and children do not have the opportunity to come home and play outdoors in their neighborhood as much as they used to. There are so many benefits for exploring nature:
- Promotes peace: Children connect with nature, which helps to keep them grounded, allowing a sense of calm to come over them.
- Activates one’s senses: Children see, hear, smell, touch, and sometimes taste when they are outside. Children use their eyes to see the leaves changing color on the trees; they use their ears to listen to the birds chirping; they use their nose to smell the fresh cut grass; they use their body to feel the warmth from the sun; and they use their mouth to taste the plants they grow in the gardens.
- Builds confidence: In a less structured environment, children have the power to control their movement and refine their gross motor skills.
- Promotes exercise: Children need to move! Exercise helps children to become more focused when they return to the classroom.
- Teaches responsibility: Children learn to care for their outdoor environment (practical life). They are in charge of watering, weeding, and caring for the plants.
- Promotes imagination: Children connect with their surroundings, allowing them to interact with nature creatively.
The outdoor classroom is a natural extension of the classroom, as it includes Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, Art, Music, Science, and Cultural materials. Students work in the classroom, outside of the classroom at tables or work rugs, in the garden beds, or in the greenhouse. Students can be found: planting bulbs, weeding gardens, painting with natural materials (pinecones, leaves, sticks), pushing a wheelbarrow, creating mosaics using objects found in the environment, sewing, creating triangles with sticks, reading in the outdoor reading area, writing their name with sticks, catching bugs, hammering nails, sewing, watering plants, and more. They are so busy and happy to be working outdoors. The outdoor classroom inspires children to learn more and discover more while developing a stewardship for the earth.