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Outdoor Education

“Let Nature be your teacher.”

- William Wordsworth -

Enjoy what Nature has to Offer

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The importance of connecting to the outdoors, to nature, and the land is becoming more significant. Outdoor education covers a broad spectrum of possibilities for learning, playing, and working outside that benefits both our health and the health of our planet.

Research has shown that learning outdoors has many benefits for children, youth, and adults. Students can apply their curricular learning to real-life situations in the out-of-doors. Outdoor and experiential learning involving problem-solving, creativity, and imagination can lead to increased engagement, achievement, and critical thinking skills.

 

Being outdoors and in natural settings improves well-being. There are many studies illustrating how being outside boosts one's physical, mental, and emotional health. Outdoor education promotes this.

Outdoor learning provides opportunities for the growth of personal development including improved self-confidence, resiliency, self-regulation, cooperation and independence.

We are all interconnected to each other and

to natural ecosystems.  Outdoor education

allows us to learn about, in and for the

environment so that our students can make

decisions for a sustainable future.

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Ontario Tech University acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. We are thankful to be welcomed on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered under the Williams Treaties and the traditional territory of the Mississauga, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to a number of Indigenous nations and people.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we remember the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by as we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Research

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Landscapes for play: Effects of an intervention to promote nature-based risky play in early childhood centres

Mariana Brussoni, Takuro Ishikawa,Sarah Brunelle &Susan Herrington

Risk taking in play is fundamental to children's exploration and understanding of the world (Smith, 1998; Sutton-Smith, 2001). Risky play is thrilling play involving uncertainty and includes six categories: play at speed, at height, with dangerous tools (e.g., hammers, saws), near dangerous elements (e.g., fire, water), rough and tumble play, and play where there is a chance of getting lost (Sandseter, 2007). A systematic review found that risky outdoor play was positively associated with physical activity and social health, and negatively associated with sedentary behaviours (Brussoni et al., 2015)

Early Childhood Teachers’ Beliefs about Children’s Risky Play in Australia and Norway

Helen Little, Ellen Sandseter & Shirley Wyver

Outdoor play provides an important context for children to explore, to experiment, to move, be themselves and make the most of the opportunities afforded by the environment in a less restricted manner (Henniger, 1994; Rivkin, 1995). Within this context, children naturally seek challenge and take risks as they expand their world view, develop an understanding of themselves and others, and endeavour to gain competency in a vast range of skills (Children’s Play Council, 2004).

John Hattie, H.W.Marsh, James T. Neil, Garry E. Richards

"The major benefits for adventure programs are reasonably consistent across all six major categories of outcomes. A theme underlying the outcomes with the greatest effects relate to self-control. These include independence (.47), confi- dence (.33), self-efficacy (.31), self-understanding (.34), assertiveness (.42), inter- nal locus of control (.30), and decision making (.47). These outcomes relate to a sense of control over or regulation of the self, responsibility, or an assurance of self. Most of these effects are maintained over time. Thus, adventure programs appear to be most effective at providing participants with a sense of self-regula- tion. The effects on most leadership, personality, and adventuresome dimensions are also substantial, but increase less substantially over time"

Allison Lugg

"As a pedagogical approach, outdoor learning may have something to offer since it lends itself to holistic and experiential learning and enables integration of knowledge and skills from a range of discipline areas,"

UNESCO’s challenge to Higher Education institutions to provide educational leadership in sustainable development, provides an impetus to develop innovative, interdisciplinary curricula and pedagogy. Whereas Higher Education curricula in sustainability and sustainable development have tended to come from the environmental sciences, recent studies have highlighted the need for more holistic, experiential, interdisciplinary approaches.

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