Why Outdoor Learning Matters for Kindergartens

Feb 19, 2024 | Blog

Preschoolers enjoying outdoor time


Imagine a classroom without walls, where the sky’s the limit and nature is the teacher. This is what outdoor learning is like — a journey beyond the traditional confines of education. It’s a world where your child’s curiosity takes the lead and the great outdoors becomes a canvas for endless possibilities.

The benefits of learning in nature’s embrace are multifaceted, influencing not just academic growth but emotional and social development. From navigating a herb garden to exploring the wonders of a banana grove, each experience is a stepping stone in your child’s holistic development.

In this article, you will learn what outdoor learning is, what benefits it gives to your kindergarten-aged child, as well as examples of outdoor learning activities you can do with your child. We will also share Heartfield Kindergarten’s approach to outdoor education, and how we weave it into our curriculum.

What is Outdoor Learning?

preschoolers exploring nature

Outdoor learning for kindergarten kids refers to educational activities and experiences outside the classroom. It emphasises the use of natural and man-made outdoor environments, be it natural settings like parks and nature reserves, or urban outdoor spaces like playgrounds, fields, and community gardens. 

As a crucial, fun part of their daily lives, outdoor learning sparks your children’s curiosity and complements what they learn indoors. It offers a world of sensory experiences that aid their development and spurs them to savour the world around them.

In Singapore’s highly urban setting, outdoor learning has emerged as an increasingly crucial educational approach for kindergarten kids. Encouraging kids to spend more time close to nature provides a refreshing contrast to the indoor and screen-dominated environments most children experience.

Benefits of Outdoor Learning for Preschoolers

two preschoolers at the playground

Outdoor learning is very beneficial for a young child’s overall growth. It helps in their mental, physical, and emotional development. Research shows it’s not just good for their learning, but also for their health and how they understand and care for the environment.

According to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in Singapore, outdoor learning yields many benefits. These can be broadly classified into 3 areas:

#1 Enhances Holistic Development and Learning

Outdoor experiences are a boost for your child’s brain. They spark creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Not just that, they also help your child focus better and develop their communication and social skills.

The outdoors is a space for freedom and adventure. It’s less structured and wide open, which means your child can explore, try new things, and take risks in a safe way. It’s a place where they can truly be kids.

When your child is outside, they often get to lead the way and make their own choices. This is great for building their self-esteem and confidence. They learn to trust their own decisions and become more independent.

Outdoor play is also vital for your child’s emotional and social development. They get lots of chances to play with others, collaborate, work through disagreements, and learn how to get along. These are key skills for life.

Lastly, the outdoors is a constantly changing and sensory-rich environment. This natural setting is perfect for your child to explore and learn real-world concepts in areas like maths, language, and science.

#2 Boosts Health and Well-being

Playing outdoors is great for your child’s physical health. Active play means your child is more likely to have a healthy weight, stronger bones, better breathing, and a lower chance of developing short-sightedness.

Outdoor activities also help your child build a love for staying active. It’s a fun way to move around, which is important in today’s world where kids often sit too much. This is exactly what health experts, like those at the WHO, recommend for children.

Nature also has a special way of reducing stress and making your child feel better mentally. Being outside can calm their mind, help them focus better, and can be especially beneficial for children who have attention difficulties.

#3 Strengthens Environmental Awareness and Community Connection

The outdoors is like a giant playground that sparks your child’s curiosity and wonder. It’s a place where they can discover and explore things firsthand, getting them excited about the world around them.

Spending time in nature helps your child form a special connection with the environment. It teaches them to care about our planet and understand issues like conservation and sustainability.

Outdoor activities, like walking around the neighbourhood, also help your child feel more connected to their community. They get to know their surroundings better and feel a sense of belonging to the place they live in.

Examples of Outdoor Learning Activities

Preschoolers learning about plants

For young kindergarten-aged children, outdoor learning activities can be both structured and unstructured. Where possible, we should offer our children a balance of guided outdoor learning and free exploration.

So, what are some examples of each? 

#1 Structured Outdoor Learning

Structured activities are planned and guided, focused on specific learning outcomes. They are facilitated by an adult like a parent or a teacher. Here are some examples of these:

  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of natural items for children to find. This encourages exploration and observation skills.
  • Outdoor Art Class: Use nature as inspiration. Collect leaves, sticks, or stones to create nature-based art, fostering creativity and experiential learning.
  • Gardening Projects: Planting and caring for a garden teaches responsibility, patience, and the science of plant life.
  • Weather Station: Set up a mini weather station to record temperature, wind speed, or rainfall. This combines exploration with scientific experimentation.
  • Outdoor Storytelling: Read stories in an outdoor setting and then have the children act them out, promoting collaborative learning and imagination.

#2 Unstructured Outdoor Learning

Unstructured activities, however, allow children free reign to explore and learn at their own pace. They may include the following:

  • Free Playground of Park Play: Allow children time to explore the playground or park at their own pace. This unstructured play is crucial for creativity and independent decision-making.
  • Nature Walks: Take walks without a set agenda. Let children lead the way, stopping to observe whatever interests them, fostering their natural curiosity.
  • Build with Natural Materials: Encourage children to build structures using sticks, stones, or sand, promoting experimentation and problem-solving.
  • Cloud Watching: Lie on the grass and watch the clouds. Ask children what shapes or stories they see, sparking their imagination.
  • Water Play: Whether a stream or with collected rainwater, water play is excellent for sensory exploration.

How Heartfield Incorporates Outdoor Learning into its Curriculum

Preschoolers playing in the field

At Heartfield Kindergarten, outdoor learning isn’t just an activity but an integral part of our pedagogy. Children learn best through their senses — the great outdoors provides an unparalleled classroom.

Believing wholeheartedly in the power of sensory-driven learning, we use our expansive outdoor compound as an invigorating extension of the traditional classroom. Here, your child is not just a passive observer but an active participant. They engage with the world through touch, smell, and interaction, making learning more profound and meaningful.

Our curriculum is also meticulously crafted to balance both quiet and energetic activities. Whether your child is gently caring for plants in our herb garden or energetically navigating our cycling track, we ensure that outdoor learning caters to all needs. This balance helps us meet the holistic needs of each child, allowing for introspection as well as physical activity.

By allowing our kids to tend to herb gardens, spot furry caterpillars, or observe banana groves, we instil a sense of responsibility and appreciation for the environment. These aren’t just lessons; they are foundational experiences that build a lifelong emotional connection with nature.

Outdoor learning at Heartfield is also seamlessly woven into our core curriculum. We conduct various activities, from sports to cultural arts and cooking, in an outdoor setting. This experiential learning context ensures that theoretical knowledge is understood and encountered in a real-world context.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, the open and inclusive nature of our outdoor spaces is perfect for nurturing our children’s social skills and emotional intelligence. Programmes like our Friendship Club, focusing on kindness, empathy, and community, are enhanced in these natural, shared spaces.

In summary, outdoor learning at Heartfield Kindergarten is about creating a nurturing environment where your child’s learning is alive, interconnected, and in harmony with the natural world. Our approach not only supports academic growth but also fosters a lifelong appreciation for nature and community. 

Located in a heritage black and white structure surrounded by lush greenery at 31 Balmoral Road, Heartfield Kindergarten is the perfect environment for outdoor — and indoor — learning for your toddler to preschool-aged child. To learn more, call: +65 6835 2354, email: info@HeartfieldKindergarten.com or visit our contact page for details. 

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