Spending time outdoors is often attributed to improved physical health, however, there are profound mental health benefits from time in nature. Personalities and mood, situational resiliency, decision-making and comprehension skills are extremely responsive in school-age children. Natural outdoor spaces are sensory-rich environments full of stimuli that help to positively impact their development.
If you think it’s important that our children are happy, self-confident, and independent thinkers, it’s time to let them outside to learn and explore in nature. After just an hour in the outdoors, focus and attention spans grow as the children gain resilience, empathy increases, and bullying decreases. It only makes sense that the more time outside, the greater the effect.
Did you know that the microorganisms found outside in soil are critical components of the human gut-brain connection and are pivotal to a child’s ability to regulate stress and anxiety? Or that engagement of the senses during learning is required to make information sticky?
Natural environments have been proven to have a calming effect through an increase in oxygen concentrations, airborne pheromones, immunity boosting mycorrhizae and mycelium, and a full palette of sensory inputs. This effect isn’t just for the kids. In one recent review, where teachers spend more than 90 minutes a day teaching outside in a natural environment, absenteeism drops by as much as 50%.
Benefits of Outdoor Learning
There’s a lot of world outside the traditional four-walled classroom, and we shouldn’t be waiting until the bell rings at the end of the day to experience it. Rather than suppressing their energy inside, let them express it outside and watch their empathy scores soar in the process. The environment in which we learn shapes and molds us – it’s time to think outside the box – knock down those walls – when it comes to our children’s learning experience, as we are preparing them for the rest of their lives.