Learning Outside The Classroom
A survey of 2,000 parents in United Kingdom finds that nearly three quarters of children are spending less than one hour outside every day.
'Active play is the natural and primary way that children learn. It is essential to their healthy growth and progress, particularly during periods of rapid brain development.' Sir Ken Robinson
There is much research showing that we spend too little time in the natural world and it has had grave effects on our mental and physical health. Study after study suggests that spending time outside reduces stress for children and adults.
Our children range from 4 to 8 years of age. Deeper learning must be experiential at this stage of child development. We believe that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances. At Whaddon Church of England Primary School, learning happens everywhere, from our story telling circle to our environmental area, but also outside of the school environment. For children to understand and make sense of new experiences it must come from their current knowledge and progress outwards. We believe that the children need to understand that the world around them is not always like Whaddon. Our curriculum is linked so that all subjects such as history, geography, RE, and DT lessons come alive for our learners. We nurture our children’s social and emotional development, both within our school environment, including Forest School, and with our variety of extended learning educational visits. Children have many experiences beyond the school, such as going on visits to the theatre, visiting local attractions and taking part in our strong links with our local community
Wherever possible, the staff incorporate learning outside the classroom into their daily curriculum. Across all classes the staff are supported and encouraged to take learning beyond the four internal walls. The learning environment has been developed to ensure constant Free-flow for the Foundation Stage class and a Forest School environment that all key stage 1 classes use for at least one morning a week. Forest School is planned, resourced, risk managed and led by our trained Forest School Leader. Our aim is to develop undercover areas for each class: Year 1 by Summer 2018, Year 2 Summer 2019. Resources are always available, and activities are set up in the large outdoor areas to allow children to develop, become independent and take risks. These areas ensure learning is taken beyond the classroom. The Foundation Stage children have free-flow into this area at all times. As children progress through the school, the activities become more planned (by adults and children) to ensure progress of the children’s learning. The school has developed the external learning environment with the children to ensure space to explore and learn from, including:
- literacy skills with external reading areas,
- den making area,
- growing spaces,
- Forest School area
- activities on the hard surfaces including alphabet and number track
- Loose parts – Large and Small
- Wooden house
- large mound to use for science experimentation and inspiration for writing
- outside music equipment
- a reflective space for the children to contemplate.