“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves of the heart”

- Richard Louv "Lost Child In The Woods"

Outdoor Education

In addition to our daily outdoor instructuion, we also offer a special Outdoor Adventures Program on the weekends. We invite parents and family members to join along as we give our students opportunities to:

  • Pick apples at a local orchard
  • Go camping
  • Lace-up for ice skating
  • Snow tubing
  • Hike outdoors

Everyday Outdoor Education

We want our students to experience the outdoors in a meaningful and purposeful way. Some examples of the activities we offer are: gardening, painting, cooking, building, or even simply studying outside. We even have an outdoor classroom area for our students to explore nature, dig for worms and learn about the world outside of the classroom walls. Outdoor education teaches lessons an indoor education cannot.

The outdoors have more variables for naturally formed learning opportunities and explorations to arise. For example, when teaching the children how to garden, if a new plant or bug appears, we make sure our lesson is flexible enough to explore that new species because it piques the children’s curiosity. Our students have observed nature in ways that show mushrooms and colorful fungus growing on logs and tree stumps, a cobweb delicately spotted with raindrops, a queen ant with wings, and a beautiful butterfly fluttering around!

The outdoors also does not limit movement in the way that indoor classrooms do. It gives children the opportunity to run and jump, which they would not be allowed to do indoors. There are no walls, chairs, or desks, which teach the children more about the importance of maintaining order, self-regulation, and supporting their peers to cultivate group boundaries. The children also enjoy having this freedom and internal that they are given more responsibility for themselves.

Nature creates a calm and collaborative environment

Being outside is also an enjoyable experience for the children because it teaches them how to love nature. The outdoors is both literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air! It is a nice break from regularly structure class, and it gives the children a chance to rejuvenate. Once they get back to the indoor classroom, they are more able to focus after having some time outdoors. Whatever outdoor activity they’re engaged in, the children know that being outdoors during this time isn’t just recess.

They use their bodies and minds to work together in a directed manner. Even though they are excited about using tools, playing in soil, and moving around, they know when to self-regulate. For example, they learn how to wind down for gardening because the plants they are working with are delicate.

Children learn how to appreciate nature and connect with it. They also learn how to work together through activities that build community. They experience rewarding adventures that build friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

Being outdoors enhances imagination and cognitive skills

The outdoors help children cultivate their imaginations. They begin to sense wonder to realize how big the world is. We have seen students create boats using items like sticks and stones, pour and measure liquid to make pretend soup, construct swimming areas and islands for animal figurines, and even pretend fishing in a muddy puddle using nothing but sticks!

Nature also assists the student in their language development. Being outdoors makes children communicate and interact with each other more. To develop their language even more, you can provide your children with the opportunity to trace letters in a sandbox or use chalk on a sidewalk to learn the alphabet! Another important aspect the outdoor education assists with is sensorial development. Being outdoors stimulates all five senses in children. From exploring textures, such as smooth leaves or rough wood, to listening to birds chirp or insects buzz, nature will hone your child’s development. Lastly, believe it or not, the great outdoors can even prepare your child’s mathematical mind. There are endless opportunities for counting outside, and our teachers offer them outdoor play projects that will lead them to more advanced math skills.

How can you incorporate outdoor education into home life?

There are many ways you can teach your children how to appreciate the outdoors even from your own home. For example, plant a vegetable garden to teach them where food comes from and about the life cycles of plants. This activity also allows them to learn practical skills, such as counting seeds, measuring the growth of the plants, cooking the food once the plants are ready, nutrition, and simply caring for the plants.

Another way to teach your children about the outdoors is to take them on nature walks. Try to point out or gather as many of a specific item, such as stones, rocks, acorns, or pinecones. They can also learn about different shapes and textures, as well as, where these items even came from. To enhance sensory play, have your child play in sand! They can learn how to use tools like shovels, pails, wheelbarrows, and sifters. This will teach building techniques and a sense of accomplishment when their task has been completed. Some more complex examples include apple picking, ice skating, hiking, or even camping. These are just a few examples of fun activities you can do with your children in the beautiful outdoors!

Clearly, outdoor education is necessary in any child’s life. At Brooksfield, we will make sure your child gets that much-needed outdoor time every day to play, learn, and develop. That being said, nature is important for everyone, including adults. Spend more time outside with your child to get some quality time with them and experience nature together!

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1830 Kirby Road, McLean, VA 22101
P: 703-356-KIDS (5437)
E: brksfield@aol.com

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