The great outdoors – nature’s classroom!

The great outdoors – nature’s classroom!

We all know getting outside is good for our own wellbeing and that of our children. But did you know - nature is an amazing teacher as well? We asked Clare Stead from Oliiki to share her thoughts on this subject with us.

Children need to learn everything, and they learn from the experiences we provide them. Amazingly, the most important time for learning is from conception to two, though your child is obviously learning beyond this time too! It’s easy to think that we need to spend heaps on big days out in order to ensure our children are given great learning opportunities, but the opposite is actually true! A huge amount can be learned in the garden, in a park or on a trip to the local woods. The Oliiki app is an app that shows parents of babies from conception to two that it’s the simple things you do on a daily basis that have a massive impact on your child’s learning outcomes.

Here are a number of examples from the Oliiki app to show you what an amazing teacher the outdoors actually is:

1) During pregnancy

Going for a walk when you’re pregnant helps you remain fit and well, which provides your baby with a wonderful environment to grow and develop. But getting out in the sunlight also helps your baby’s eyes to develop fully, and if you chat to your bump while you walk, you’ll be developing your emotional bond with your baby and building their love of language at the same time.

2) The newborn days

Taking your newborn outside to lie down on a warm day in the dappled light under a tree watching the leaves blow in the wind helps your baby develop their ability to track with their eyes. Tracking, an important skill to learn, is needed when your baby starts reading. The more opportunities your baby has to practice tracking moving objects, the better they get at it. Outside, they’ll also be surrounded all sorts of complex sounds; birdsong, the sound of passing people, and traffic. Listening to these helps them develop their listening skills, and encourages their sensory development which is so important as a foundation for all other learning.

3) From 1 years old

When a one-year-old watches a caterpillar on a leaf, they’re mesmerised by it. It stops them, they concentrate on what is happening in front of them, they ask questions, they investigate, they enquire; you talk to them about what’s happening, you describe what you are seeing. As they watch, they’re developing their concentration, enquiry and investigation skills, they are developing their balance and muscles as they stand and watch. They’re learning new vocabulary which they can use later on; all skills we want to encourage. Giving your child the opportunity to learn and practice skills like these through play and interacting with nature makes it a game rather than a lesson. When we learn through play, we always learn better. A child who is given the opportunity to focus on watching a bee collect pollen will find concentrating in the classroom later on so much easier.
A boisterous toddler, appropriately dressed in their Muddy Puddles gear and taken to splash in puddles, build mud pies and collect sticks, finds a world of adventures. The inside world is so often full of ‘can’t-do’s’ and ‘no’s’ while the outside environment becomes a ‘can-do’ chance to explore, adventure, and investigate. A world of make-believe, curiosity and imagination. By giving your child the chance to explore, take risks, and be physically active, you give them skills that will last a lifetime. As parents, when we understand the learning our children are getting from the play they’re doing, we want to do it more and more. The more we give them these experiences, the more they learn. The more they learn, the more we’re rewarded with watching them grow and develop, and the more we want to give them stimulating opportunities. It’s in this way that we help our children reach their full potential. Dreaming up activities that are perfect for the age and stage of your baby or toddler can be tricky and ever-changing, and knowing what they are learning from them is often even harder. That’s where the Oliiki app comes in. Simple activities to do with your bump, baby or toddler, using things from in and around your home that show you the learning your child is getting from the play you are doing. Want to know more? Download it from the app stores and have a play, the first 7 days are FREE.
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