Nature In Education
After more than a year of pandemic-driven precautions, resulting in distanced and virtual academic experiences, the outdoor education movement has become more important than ever. Fern Hill School is proud to be part of this growing movement that dates back to 1837 when Friedrich Froebel created the first Kindergarten. Froebel believed that children construct their understanding of the world through direct experience with it.
At FHS, we agree that nature in education is an essential component of a whole-child approach to learning. Research studies link outdoor learning to increased performance on standardized testing, improved in-school behavior, positive attitudes about school in general, and improved attendance. This is in addition to the health benefits of intentional immersion in nature for children and adults. Children who spend a significant amount of time in nature have less risk of childhood obesity, their fine and gross motor skills are more developed, and eyesight is increased.
Outdoor learning allows children increased opportunity to develop social and emotional skills like problem solving, confidence, independence, risk management, and resilience. Navigating a downed tree in the forest may begin as a "sit and scooch" situation and develop into a fully-balanced stride from one end to another. Negotiating the process of increasing ability in a physically risky opportunity directly translates to confidence in taking risks in all other learning forums. Children who learn outdoors are encouraged to think critically about risks and benefits of their actions, to overcome adversities and to build resilience in a physically and emotionally safe manner.
Finally, children who regularly interact with nature are increasingly aware of the beauty and resources that the earth has to offer. Nurturing a relationship with the outdoors early in life grounds children in negotiating the environmental and social challenges we face as a society and for the personal challenges they face as an individual.