It is no secret that outdoor learning provides numerous benefits for children. With evidence proving that this learning technique improves children’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, along-side encouraging creativity and increasing their environmental awareness and responsibility, Heatherton School have made sure to incorporate many outdoor opportunities within their own learning curriculum.
- Children’s emotional, physical and mental wellbeing
With the diversity of play experiences and direct contact with nature, outdoor leaning has been proven to reduce stress, producing positive affects to children’s overall wellbeing and happiness.
- Boosts their social and personal skills
Heatherton has found that outdoor learning provides opportunities for developing important social skills, such as sharing, using language, including others in play, turn taking, and forming good manners. It also helps with building self-confidence.
- Creates positive environmental awareness and stability
Believe it or not, there is a such thing as ‘nature deficit disorder’! Us humans have biophilic tendencies, meaning that we have an innate desire to seek connection with nature. Therefore, it is essential for our health to spend a decent amount of time outdoors.
- Improves academic performance
This type of learning leads to children being more engaged, attentive and self-motivated, therefore boosting pupil’s academic performance. Practical learning allows children to observe, learn and understand concepts in a far greater capacity as they can experience things for themselves.
Year 1 at Heatherton are an example of a class who really have been utilising the benefits of ‘naturalistic’ learning this term.
A recent trip to Chesham Bois for their Science lesson had them learning all about the changes that autumn brings.
They have found other opportunities to be outside and learning from skipping in the playground to rhythms in Music lessons to searching for sounds around the school grounds in Science.
The Heatherton Forest School Certification allows the girls to develop knowledge about the natural world around them. The children are very lucky to be living in an area of natural beauty within the Chiltern hills and the outdoor lessons have allowed them to learn about the local environment.
In the near future, Heatherton aspires to use their neighbouring woodland for greater outdoor education. The School is working with the local Parish Council on plans to use cameras in bird and bat boxes to watch the habits of these creatures, build bug hotels, create natural spaces in which local groups can sit and talk, plus provide educational posts for other visiting groups of youngsters providing the local community with a dedicated space supported by the Heatherton Forest School.
Nicola Nicoll, the Headteacher of Heatherton says, “We hope to create a space to further enrich the natural assets, broaden biodiversity and create an even more usable and accessible education space to enhance the pupil’s learning opportunities on site plus providing a great community resource.”
The outdoor facilities at Heatherton School are of the highest quality and are designed in a way to support the pupils teaching and learning, permitting this learning style to take place within various lessons throughout the timetable from our youngest pupils in Nursery (from 2.5yrs old) through to our oldest pupils in Year 6. With access to local playing fields, cross country running routes and all-weather tennis courts at the local tennis club the girls have the opportunity to participate in many sports. In addition, as part of the Berkhamsted Schools Group, Heatherton pupils have access to the Berkhamsted School facilities including a 25m indoor swimming pool, 3G Astro court, Fives courts and an outdoor high ropes centre. Heatherton girls are set for a wide range of active learning opportunities across several aspects of the academic curriculum.
There is an EYFS play area for Nursery, alongside a fun darts corner to aim high.
The obstacle course is also an exciting addition to the playground, providing an opportunity to be adventurous during games and break times.
As well as outdoor playhouses that the children love to explore, Heatherton has just built a multi-purpose eco cabin, which contributes to the children’s diverse learning environment, ensuring classes remain exciting.
Although these extensive facilities are excellent, it is the immensely positive effects that using each of these has on the pupil’s learning experience, allowing for a diverse, creative, and enlightening curriculum, both inside and outside the classroom. The facilities help our teachers provide an enriching programme, whilst providing a joyful and exciting environment for the pupils of Heatherton.
Join Heatherton for one of their upcoming Virtual Open Events to discover more about Heatherton and the Berkhamsted Schools Group meet the new Headteacher Mrs Nicola Nicoll and find out how they ‘Develop Remarkable People ‘- on: Wednesday 3 March. Limited places still available in Year 1. Register your interest here.