Why outdoor education is more important than ever

Dr. Maria Montessori:

The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”

I am raising a family who gets everything it can from the outdoors!  Singing practice in a natural auditorium, cricket, golf, running and for our newest arrival from his very first days, there have been daily dog walks and back garden biology courses amongst plants, trees, birds and squirrels. Children simply need the air and space of the natural world so that their bodies and souls can function.

And that is the philosophy that runs throughout our nurseries too. The outdoors is life itself and that has never been more apparent in this time of restriction – where the natural world was taken from us. It is no wonder that our children felt impeded, that instincts were stifled and ‘bigness’ confined. Dr. Maria Montessori said that “the land is where our roots are” and that inheritance must be allowed to flourish in a child for a balanced person to emerge.

We offer experiences and guide impulses for developing senses and minds to absorb a place of risk, experimentation, smells, sounds, textures, other beings and new growth. Any learning a child experiences can be done outside. We know many children will absorb facts and concepts successfully whilst outside in a way that would never be achieved inside. It isn’t just that we take the indoor tools of learning resources out there, but that we find nature’s equivalents to use for the same and for different reasons.

For instance, our education about healthy bodies isn’t contained in a cooking session or a book about how we work. Outside, big movement can be done with all of nature egging you on! Energetic little people will get all they need from moving in many ways on equipment, in puddles, or on grass. Then they are ready to learn more – about anything and everything including their strength, their place, their view of wildlife. Outdoors is a foil to other work, play and experience inside and it fits like a glove.

So whatever situation you are in, take a walk with your child at the very least and explore the world at their pace. A line of ants working with intent to reach a destination over and over again whilst carrying the fruits of their labour is an extraordinary march of meticulous order for a child. Stop and discuss! Their eyes will reopen yours and it is you who will be better for it, I assure you!

But isn’t it amazing how the natural world finds a real place in our homes too. Growing herbs, flowers and vegetables can be done successfully on a sunny windowsill inside a home when allotments, gardens or land can’t provide the opportunity! Bugs and leaves and stones and sticks can stand proudly on doorsteps or in trays, to make trophies of their travels or pictures to display. Learning of our native world can inspire talk and exploration of other countries, their houses, their animals, their food. And ignited senses of smell and touch from rotating seasons and weather cycles makes no two days the same outside!

The pandemic has reminded us, more than ever, how important our natural surroundings are to us. Let’s take our children back to basics and remember to appreciate our environment and the amazing world that we live in.