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Head of Primary Blog

Mrs. Alison Priestley
Mrs. Alison Priestley (12 posts) Head of Primary Ver Perfil

"Encouraging a child to go outside in all weather builds resilience, but more importantly, it saves them from spending their life merely tolerating the "bad days" in favour of a handful of "good" ones - a life of endless expectations conditions where happiness hinges on sunshine."  - Nicolette Sowder

This week I was fortunate to accompany our wonderful Reception classes on a visit to The Botanical Gardens and what a treat it was! I was amazed at the sense of tranquility achieved in this garden when it is part of the giant city of Sao Paulo.

As soon as we walked through the gates a feeling of attachment with nature was evident ; not just from the adults on the trip but also from every child with us. We saw butterflies dancing across the flowers, lizards basking in the sun, monkeys taking a special interest in our picnic, herons slowly creeping across the water in search of a fish lunch, turtles bobbing up from the water, ants carrying leaves back to build compost and grow food, fish darting around in the dappled water of the lily covered ponds – everything was magical, especially, as I’ve said before when viewed through the eyes of a child.


Children take on a new and exiting view of life when they are outdoors, it is therefore very sad to realize that in recent years there has been a cultural shift in our society that has reduced the access and use of outdoors for many young children. Of course we MUST keep our children safe and the outdoors can be unsafe if we don’t take sensible precautions. The use of technology in the home for entertainment can dominate but there are also many arguments for taking children out and beyond their indoor environment.

Outdoor learning provides many opportunities for physical activity, learning to love the feeling of freedom
and movement and an understanding of how this contributes to emotional well-being. When we take children outside we can see a respect for nature and the environment growing in each child – no one on the garden visit stepped on an ant, picked the flowers or threw stones into the ponds.

The outdoor environment is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. Very young children learn predominately through their sensory and physical experiences, which supports brain development and the creation of those vital neural networks. Most children learn better by
using their senses. Outdoor environments provide the perfect place to do this. Instead of viewing different types of plants or wildlife on a computer or TV screen, they can see, smell, hear, and touch them in nature.

Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that
is generated when children actively engage with their environment.

It is not just my opinion, An academic paper written in 2006 pointed to a study of 2000 schoolchildren in California as evidence that outdoor education improves the attainment of children. After studying on an outdoor curriculum basis, students from 11 schools scored higher than students of traditional systems in 72% of assessments in everything from math and science to attendance. The same year, Dennis Eaton,
from the University of Toronto, published in his book *‘Cognitive and Affective Learning in Outdoor Education‘ he found that students’ cognitive abilities were better developed outside the classroom than in.

The benefits are clearly huge, living in a city the size of Sao Paulo certainly has its challenges, but the green spaces, the parks, the outstanding scenery just beyond the city limits is waiting for you. Take time this week to spend time, even a short time, interacting in nature – you owe it to yourself and your children