The Power of The Outdoor Classroom!
(Why Do Children Learn So Much More Outdoors?)
How many times have we all heard “It’s just an excuse to get out of the real work”, “why are these troublesome youths being rewarded with days out?”
Well, while I think this is likely the case for some, I feel the outdoor environment is the perfect opportunity to help mold and channel young minds. Not everyone has the ability to sit, listen and learn in classrooms. For those that struggle, learning and applying new skills hands on is of huge benefit to them, it’s certainly not “just a doss day out”.
I’ve ran at an outdoor centre now for more than ten years and have come across hundreds of children who just needed a helping hand to regain confidence that is so vital in today’s world. Outdoor learning not only helps these youths, it promotes new and exciting possibilities, it gives them and platform to say “you know what…I CAN DO THIS”!
My father started our company in 1986 and he started it for this very reason. He could see the benefits and rewards in outdoor learning. He was able to see that some of these children haven’t yet experienced a truly positive life experience. Some have only experienced a hostile and negative approach towards them, yet they were being criticised for not working hard enough or achieving their true potential.
However, outside of the classroom, out in the open these children profited massively. They were, for the first time, able to complete goals that were set for them and carry that confidence over to everyday life. This is so important and understandably almost impossible to do in a classroom environment. Most schools simply don’t have the resources or money to help channel their attributes.
I have a fantastic example for you.
A few years back we were running a large year 6 camp, over 90 children were with us for a 5 day residential. One of these children was Autistic and struggled to relate to the other children. One of my staff noticed that he would spend hours just tapping the table with his hands, he wasn’t doing this in a distracting way and he certainly wasn’t trying to get attention. It was his way of dealing with the stress of the days proceedings. He took comfort from this and by no means was he bad at it, in fact he was so in time that we had an idea.
We asked him if he had ever tried the drums, his face lit up. “Yes I have” he hastily replied. “My mum bought me one for Christmas and I play it all the time”. With this news we rushed over to the kitchen and using a variety of pots and pans we created for him his very own drum kit. Wow! He played this thing for only a few minutes and soon had a large group of children surrounding him and all clapping and cheering. The boys face was a picture.
Throughout the week he kept practicing with the promise from us that we would give him a minute slot at the campfire on their penultimate night. However the job was already done. The confidence he received from that first performance was all he needed. Throughout the week he was more sociable with the groups and achieved so much more when it came to the activities.
So why aren’t these courses more readily available to youths? Why isn’t the government doing more to support the younger generation? Unfortunately schools are under so much pressure to provide results, it’s a numbers game, a table of exam results. By the time exams come round it’s too late for some. More money needs to be granted and invested in our younger generation to give them a unique opportunity to become that “model citizen”. Not everyone is the same…thank goodness!
Giving our future generation confidence is key and what better way to do it than in the great Outdoors!