Outdoor learning is not just sport, outdoor pursuits and high-risk activities. It is taking the everyday curriculum and teaching it outside. The grounds at St. Joseph’s College provide the perfect setting to facilitate this. We do not have to ride in the College’s fleet of minibuses. We step outside the classroom and the world is our oyster…
The beauty of learning outdoors is that children often do not perceive it as ‘learning’ and yet they learn some of their most valuable lessons there. The lack of walls means that they feel less inhibited – both physically and mentally – and it allows them to join up their thinking by applying it in a real life context.
Evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that well planned, high quality outdoor learning experiences can have a significant impact on a learner’s personal development including academic, resilience, character development and wellbeing. Getting pupils involved in outdoor learning is a fantastic way of setting them on a pathway to a healthy and environmentally sustainable lifestyle.
When the youngest children join the College in Nursery and Reception a significant amount of their time is spent outdoors. In fact, wellington boots and waterproofs are part of our school uniform in both the Early Years Foundation Stage and Infant departments. Skills are developed across the curriculum both through the mediums of play, and adult-led learning. Margaret McMillan said “The widest classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.” This becomes quickly apparent when witnessing children engrossed in their learning outside.
In the Mud Kitchen children develop their social and communication skills as they learn to collaborate, negotiate and cooperate with each other. They develop their fine and gross motor skills, spatial awareness and an understanding of mathematical concepts, such as capacity whilst exploring and experimenting with the properties of mud. They demonstrate high levels of creativity and the only limit is their imagination. Weekly welly walks provide an excellent opportunity to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the world in which they live. Children experience the awe and wonder of learning, such as finding a newt in the wild life area or discovering bulbs blooming in the woods.
Outdoor leaning does not stop when children leave the EYFS and make the transition to Year 1. We are committed to providing outdoor learning opportunities throughout the child’s learning journey in the Prep School, whether it be learning about weather and the seasons in Geography, caring for plants in the allotment as part of the Science curriculum, writing haiku poems about autumn leaves, or hunting for acute, obtuse and reflex angles in the branches of trees.
Head of EYFS and Infants