You’ll never beleaf how beneficial outdoor learning is to your little ones! It plays a unique part in building a child’s confidence and supporting their mental wellbeing. Allowing kiddos to encounter situations they’d never come across in a classroom is – simply put – tree-mendous for them!
Visiting somewhere like Little Farmers provides excellent exposure to the natural world and allows children to have hands-on learning experiences. From enhancing problem-solving skills to communication, resilience and more, outdoor learning provides endless opportunities for exploration and contextual learning.
In this blog, we let you in on some of the key benefits of outdoor learning!
Learning through messy play
I’m sure you will have noticed the glint in your child’s eye when playing with toys and discovering new things. Even simple toys and everyday objects spark imagination and learning. Play is not only fun for everyone but also elevates kids’ physical and social-emotional skills, as well as language, problem-solving and more – and outdoor play is especially valuable to your little one’s development!
With this in mind, Timberplay Scotland set out to design our Little Farmers play area, incorporating outdoor messy play areas and an element of risk to help kids learn how to navigate the real world.
This type of play helps your little ones develop physical skills and creativity as it is play through experimentation and exploration. This will help them learn confidence and self-assuredness – skills that even us ‘big kids’ struggle with sometimes.
Physical and mental wellbeing
We are living in a totally techy world. This means kids can have too much exposure to digital screens which can negatively impact on both their mental and physical development. Outdoor learning allows children to put their focus back on nature and counteracts some of that inevitable screen time!
Outdoor environments naturally inspire little ones to be more physically active and places like Little Farmers offer kids the opportunity to run, climb, dig and more – all essential sensory experiences for development. It’s amazing to see them having the times of their lives knowing they’re also learning as they go!
Curiosity and enhanced curriculum learning
Outdoor learning is a way to deepen a child’s learning experience by getting them to experience lessons in a new and exciting way. Kids who have experienced the outdoors can demonstrate improved skills in the classroom. In fact, a 2016 UK government study found that 92% of teachers said that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors!
Outdoor environments are the perfect places for children to learn to lead by their senses. At Little Farmers, children can see, smell, hear, and touch their natural surroundings instead of simply watching them through a TV screen. At Little Farmers, your kids will get to groom ponies, see and pet the various farm animals and watch them interact with each other in the fields.
Seeing and interacting with the animals, fruits, veg, plants and more at Craigies Farm offers a unique experience to your kids. These hands-on experiences cultivate a love of and respect for nature and get your little ones (maybe soon-to-be little farmers?) interested in the world around them. This respect for nature is so important in the larger development of their sense of empathy and will make them more conscientious as they get older too!
Outdoor learning ideas to try for yourself
- Digging in the mud – Embracing messy play and letting the kids dig, feel and play with mud allows them let go of ideas or ‘order’ and ‘mess’ that can be found in a classroom. Messy outdoor learning can also increase levels of serotonin to sooth and calm and help children relax. Kids can make ‘potions’ adding leaves, petals and more and let their creativity really soar!
- Gardening – ‘Grow your own’ seed packets don’t cost the earth and allow kids to get growing easily! You don’t even need a garden as seedlings can be grown on a windowsill indoors. The children can observe how the seeds and plants grow, draw, measure and record the changes in the plant over time. It’s a chance for them to interact with nature and learn and talk about where our food comes from too – something we are passionate about at Craigies.
- Creating collections – Whether you’re out on a nature walk or in your back garden, give your kids a category to start scavenging for, and ask them to find natural treasures to pop in their totes! Get them to collect things like rocks, leaves, and pine cones and describe and organise them. Once they’re done collecting and categorising they can even make some natural art out of their findings!
- Measuring up – This seems so simple, but just by giving your little one a ruler or tape measure to use around the garden or park allows them to discover different aspects of the world around them. Depending on their ages, they can record their results, compare, or younger kids could use descriptors like ‘longer’, ‘taller’, and ‘shorter’ not only to learn more about nature but also strengthen their observation skills.
Now that you know the many benefits of outdoor learning, gather up the kids and head out to the farm for the perfect fun and educational experience for your children – our friendly staff and the animals can’t wait to greet you!
If you’re gearing up for a visit to Little Farmers, click here to plan your day and find out more. We are open every day for farm fun, adventure, play and learning!