Outdoor play gets your kids ready for STEM learning. That’s why it’s important to check the curriculum when you choose a school for your kids. Some education models focus too much on STEM subjects, leaving little to no time for the students to play outside. But in the right school and teachers, active exploration—a central part of any outdoor play sessions—enhances your children’s brain.
Here are some of the benefits that you can expect with playing outside with STEM
Improves Spatial Skills
Playing outdoors helps kids develop spatial skills, much like what they’d gain if they play games like jigsaw puzzles as well as construction toys and sets. The hands-on activity gives kids the chance to investigate shapes from visual angles and perspectives. Through practice, the kids can train their brains to imagine and rotate shapes in their heads. Whether your children are in kindergarten or higher secondary school, they can gain a lot from outdoor sessions. That’s why it’s important to choose a school that provides opportunities for outdoor play and learning.
Enhances Motor Skills
When kids run outside or play, they are also enhancing their motor skills. Being physically active helps them develop fine motor control. That is another good thing that outdoor sessions offer. With many schools opening up for in-person classes, your kids can start engaging in outdoor play again. Schools, on the other hand, are working hard to ensure that the learning environment for the kids stays free of the virus, ensuring their safety and health.
Allowing the kids to play outside also helps them develop an intuitive understanding of how the world works. They pick up on ideas central to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Their experiential learning sparks insights about the world and that aids in their cognitive development.
There are four major types of learners. If your kids are kinesthetic learners, then they absorb information better when they move. They wiggle and tap, they swing their legs and bounce. They won’t be able to sit still, and that’s all right. The behaviour might be misconstrued as being disruptive in class but that’s only because they have excellent physical memory. That’s also why they understood motion verbs better when they perform the movements. For instance, run or jump or hide.
A good school designs many of the outdoor play and activities with learning goals in mind. It might look like the kids are only running around or playing in groups. But they are learning valuable concepts and ideas that they can build on and that help them understand more complex ideas later. These activities also provide them with the chance to make decisions for themselves.
With outdoor play aimed at making the most out of every interaction that the kids have with the natural world, the kids can improve their language. They get better at processing words when they use those words to refer to their environment. As motor experiences are often tied to the meaning of the word, that also means your children’s vocabulary and language skills improve through outdoor play.
Learn to Investigate
Letting the kids touch the rocks or investigate leaves instils in them the value of active exploration. They learn to investigate. They learn to ask about things. And that sense of wonder whenever they understand or discover something for the first time is one of the best reasons to teach. After the outdoor sessions, teachers ask the kids to talk about what they found and that helps improve their observational skills while strengthening their vocabulary and language.
The best thing about outdoor play is that it encourages curiosity. Kids learn early on the value of asking questions, of wanting to learn more and find out more. Unlike traditional learning approaches that often have the kids sitting in class and passively listening to the teacher, schools that make room for play in their curriculum understand the importance of raising kids whose sense of curiosity isn’t stifled by restrictions. These help them develop the kind of mindset that prepares them for a STEM education.
Support Cause and Effect
The best teachers also talk about cause and effect during their outdoor sessions. When the kids investigate what happens to a rock or a leaf? How does a pile of leaves feel? These are learning moments. Explaining how things come to be helps wire a child’s intuition about how things work. All these lay an excellent foundation for when they start learning STEM.
If you’re looking for a school, then choose one that will provide your kids with an education that offers experiential learning opportunities like this. That way, when they grow up, or when they enter primary and secondary schools or even college, their mind has already been trained to think and take in the world critically.
Outdoor play improves your children’s cognitive and physical development, which will further help them to excel at STEM.