The Importance of Outside Learning: Growing a Healthy Future at Footsteps
In today’s fast-paced world, where digital devices have become an integral part of our lives, it is crucial to recognize the significance of outside learning for young children. At Footsteps, we believe that engaging children with nature and providing them with opportunities to explore the great outdoors not only enhances their physical health but also nurtures their cognitive, social, and emotional development. We wanted to shed some light on the importance of outside learning, focusing specifically on why we are so keen on growing things in the garden and Forest School activities across the Footsteps sites to promote healthy eating habits, gardening skills, and an understanding of the world around them.
Connecting with Nature
Children are naturally curious beings who thrive on sensory experiences. By immersing themselves in the garden and participating in forest school activities, they can connect with the natural world in a profound way. These experiences stimulate their senses, encouraging them to explore, observe, and make sense of the environment around them. Engaging with nature has been shown to reduce stress levels, enhance creativity, and improve overall well-being. We have seen this in full effects for both children and staff!
Promoting Healthy Eating Habits
Growing vegetables in the garden provides a fantastic opportunity for children to understand where their food comes from and develop a sense of appreciation for fresh, wholesome produce. When children actively participate in planting, weeding, and watering, they become invested in the growth process and feel a sense of pride in the results. Through hands-on experiences, they learn about the nutritional value of different vegetables, the importance of a balanced diet, and the joy of eating something they have nurtured themselves. We have loved growing a whole host of nutritious items such as potatoes, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs.
Hands-on Learning and Gardening Skills
Outside learning allows children to engage in hands-on experiences that foster a range of skills. By tending to a garden, children develop fine motor skills as they plant seeds, pull weeds, and water plants. They also learn about responsibility, patience, and the need for consistent care. Understanding the role of weather, seasons, and different environmental factors further enriches their scientific knowledge and critical thinking abilities. And most importantly, it is just a whole new way yo have fun!
Encouraging Environmental Stewardship
When children actively participate in the growth process and witness the beauty of nature, they develop a deep sense of respect and care for the environment. By engaging in activities such as composting, recycling, and conserving water, they understand their role as responsible citizens and stewards of the planet. These experiences instill lifelong values of sustainability and environmental consciousness, empowering children to make informed choices that positively impact the world around them.
Social and Emotional Development
Outside learning experiences, such as gardening and forest school, provide valuable opportunities for children to interact and collaborate with their peers. Working together to plant seeds, tend to the garden, and overcome challenges fosters teamwork, cooperation, and empathy. These activities also promote self-confidence and resilience as children witness the growth and transformation of plants through their dedicated efforts.
We recognize the immense value of outside learning in nurturing the holistic development of young children. Engaging with nature, growing things in the garden, and participating in forest school activities offer countless benefits, from promoting healthy eating habits to developing gardening skills and fostering a deep connection with the environment. By providing children with these invaluable experiences, we empower them to become responsible, environmentally conscious individuals who appreciate the wonders of nature. We can’t wait to plan new activities to continue to cultivate a love for the outdoors and plant the seeds for a healthy and sustainable future.