Outdoor learning connected with nature inspires teaching and motivates students
At AIS, we believe that the essence of education today is how we are all connected to the environment. When we combine learning with the outdoors, it provides the children with a real experience of inter-connectedness, which is becoming more and more relevant in today’s uncertain world.
We chose the location, grounds and buildings of AIS for their potential to enhance our student learning. The connection with the environment, natural materials, flora and fauna provide a backdrop of inspiration for our teaching team and a springboard for our children to learn about and maintain throughout their adult life, respect, care and love of natural resources and the global environment.
The AIS school buildings and their surrounding environment, also provide a safe and supportive setting to enhance social skills and both teachers and children feel energised by its connection to nature. There is so much to learn from the living things that surround our classrooms and the outdoor activity during class-time and breaks can be a great support to our mental health and physical wellbeing.
What types of education can take place outdoors?
Connecting with the outdoors creates new and inspiring ways to learn. Why read about geometry from a book when you can find leaves, beehives, succulents, tree stumps and an array of natural things that have geometric shapes?
Experimenting with stones, leaves, branches and soil are just some of the natural elements that can be used during teaching. Geometry, art sessions, team-building activities, cross-country runs in the woods, tending the allotment and “walk and talks” are just a few of the activities that enrich learning by combining education with natural elements and the outdoor environment.
Traditional school timetables can mean that children are often sat in one place for long periods, something that can be regarded as inhibitive to learning. Children both enjoy and need to move around, their mind and body benefit from being stimulated by their surroundings.
What can children learn in the AIS gardens?
At AIS, we have an allotment where the children grow vegetables and fruit, olive and fruit trees, but it’s much more than that. Here our students learn about how plants grow, what happens when natural products break down through decomposition, what wildlife is around at different times of the year and what effects they have on plant life.
Each one of our classrooms has a connection directly to the outdoors, our teachers see that the children are happy outdoors and the feeling is like one you would find in the hustle and bustle of a small village. The children enjoy being in the gardens and outdoor area with its nooks and crannies, these spaces are a place where they feel comfortable and like “at home”. With our situation between the mountains and the sea, there’s no end of stimulation for them to learn from: playing witness to the seasons, the rapidly changing weather conditions, getting to understand the difference between coastal and mountain areas and more.
AIS children spend their breaks outdoors in the fresh air
Our teachers don’t need to prompt the students to go outside at break-time, all break-times are spent outside of the classroom in the fresh air. We are a mobile free school so there are no phones, this means that the children are naturally engaging more with each other and their surroundings.
Our outings and excursions both within class time and outside of that, are often spent in nature, taking walks in the beautiful countryside around the school, learning about the plant and animal life in the school grounds and the more adventurous holidays such as rafting, skiing and climbing trips (when time and conditions permit).
How practical is learning outdoors, particularly in the winter?
On the Costa Blanca, the weather is such that it is possible to spend around 99% of school days outside, for some part of the day at least. It’s rarely too cold or too wet to venture out so every opportunity is taken to take full advantage of that. That’s a wonderful amount of fresh air and a good dose of time spent in nature in every school week.
What are the benefits of learning outdoors?
Being in nature makes us appreciate both the environment around us and the global one. Spending time in the great outdoors will lead children to have a level of respect for their natural surroundings so they’re more likely to go on as adults to take care of our beautiful planet.
With the AIS educational approach, spending more time learning outdoors is also incredibly beneficial to the health of the students too. The children get a good, healthy dose of vitamin D each day, they get the natural endorphins from being out in the sunshine and having lots of space to move around, all great for their mental health and wellbeing, not forgetting to mention the physical health benefits of simply moving about more. Studies show that children who are outside more, will generally go on to be more active as adults.
If you would like to know more about the AIS Educational Approach, call us on +34 625295634 or email us [email protected] or read more here on our website https://ais-international-school.es/education/