Some of the best childhood skills and development goals are learnt passively, whilst outside and having fun. As a parent, it is all too easy to obsess about literacy and numeracy development whilst excluding a more holistic approach to education that sees a child expressing themselves naturally and following their own instinctive creativity. Outdoor learning is a great way to engage your child through their desire to play, build and imagine - developing skills intuitively, organically and through trial and error. But when it comes to the range of outdoor learning resources available, it is easy to understand why parents get confused.
Much that is available online promises to help your child with a particular skill or ability, but how do you know it is suitable for them? They key thing is to tailor anything you buy to your child and make sure that they are going to be interested before you stump up the cash. Although many manufacturers are keen to emphasise the universality of what they provide, only you know your child well enough to realise that forcing them to play a game which will help with phonics development will last all of five minutes if they are more interested in making shapes in the mud. Instead, find something constructive, like letter pebbles that can be incorporated into building games, or an outdoor chalkboard that will let them unleash their creativity in a way that is not subject to artificially imposed boundaries.
Outdoor learning resources need not be high-tech or expensive to be effective. Just hunting for letters as you walk down the street, or using crayons to make wax rubbings of sign numbers are great ways of engaging a child with the outside world and showing the relationship between concepts and things. Some children prefer to explore things rather than being told about how they work and if that is the case, then find a way of stimulating their minds - incorporating their interest into the outside world.
A nature trail is a great way to stimulate a child's imagination and ideas that have been explored outside can be brought back home to prompt them in other games and activities. Outdoor learning is not just about developing new skills in the orthodox sense, it is also about giving them the confidence and ability to engage with the world in new ways and help them to navigate their own learning experience with ease. By doing so, you ensure that nothing is hindering them on the road to great educational success.