Benefits of Outdoor Education in Early...

Benefits of Outdoor Education in Early Childhood

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

After a long day at school, spending time outside can be a good way to relax. However, the outdoors can be part of learning, even before children begin school. Outdoor education in early childhood can be very beneficial for students’ learning in helping them to develop some of the skills that they need for the future.

Being outside brings many benefits, including fresh air, the opportunity to exercise, and the chance to learn many useful facts about nature. Being able to identify different types of plants, for example, can help people distinguish between edible and poisonous ones. Learning about animals can also help people understand how to treat them. Knowing how to avoid being sprayed by a skunk, for example, could be very helpful for anyone who wants to spend time outside.

The idea of outdoor education likely came through the tradition of holding summer camps for children. In the early 1900s, people first started sending their children to camps where they had the chance for personal growth and learning skills such as community-building. The environmental movement of the 1950s and 1960s also added the idea of environmental care and stewardship. Helping children become aware of the places and the people around them was part of the goal.

Besides these skills, gaining useful experiences was an important feature of these camps, as it was in other outdoor education programs. Students could learn how to swim, for example, which is important for anyone who goes near water. However, having fun and spending time with friends can also be valuable. People need time to relax, and outdoor education can provide an opportunity for that.

Outdoor education can be formal and organized, with activities planned for all the time that students are outside. For example, they might have races or possibly nature walks to find different animals or plants. However, outdoor education can be informal, where students can wander around and find whatever interests them. It can also be somewhere between formal and informal, with planned events but also free time for students to choose their activities.

People can start outdoor education at any point, but beginning in early childhood is a good idea. At that age, children have the energy and curiosity to begin to learn about the outdoors and study plants and animals. Later, going out into nature can become an everyday activity, a habit that no longer needs a plan because it is normal. If an activity is not part of people’s everyday life, it becomes more difficult for them to start in their adult years.

Beginning in early childhood also has other benefits. For example, it can help people understand issues such as climate change and pollution. People know about these issues from television and the Internet, but it can seem unreal unless they see it for themselves. If they start early, people can see how the environment has changed and possibly find solutions for at least some of the issues.

Outdoor education can be an important part of learning about the world and the people and animals living here. If you have a chance, you should be part of activities that help you gain that knowledge.



Alden, C. “Why the Outdoors Should Be an Integral Part of Every Early Learning and Child-Care Program.” https://childcarecanada.org/documents/research-policy-practice/21/08/why-outdoors-should-be-integral-part-every-early-learning.

Asfeldt, Morgan; Rebecca Purc-Stephenson; Thomas Zimmerman. “Outdoor Education in Canadian Public Schools: Connecting Children and Youth to People, Place, and Environment.” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504622.2022.2061919.

Harwood, D., E. Boileau, Z. Dabaja, K. Julien. “Exploring the National Scope of Outdoor Nature-Based Early Learning Programs in Canada: Findings from a Large-Scale Survey Study.” https://ijheld.lakeheadu.ca/article/view/1761.

Johnstone, Avril; Anne Martin; Paul McCrorie.The Role of Nature-Based Early Childhood Education on Children’s Physical, Social, Emotional and Cognitive Outcomes.” https://www.outdoorplaycanada.ca/2022/08/10/the-role-of-nature-based-early-childhood -education-on-childrens-physical-social-emotional-and-cognitive-outcomes/.

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