The Developmental Benefits of Students Learning in Nature: Rain Or Shine

There’s no reason to let a little inclement weather stop your child from learning in nature. Just look at the “Rain or Shine” preschools in Scandinavia, where toddlers spend the majority of the day outside all year round, playing in creeks, digging in dirt and chasing each other around the woods.

Places where they hone their motor skills by balancing on logs and jumping on rocks, and bond with nature by getting their hands on bugs and plants on a daily basis. In Scandinavia, these preschools have been around for over 50 years and are a popular choice among health-conscious parents.

“The kids here are happy, fit, strong and full of energy,” says Anna Mållberg, teacher at the Rain or Shine preschool Kråkan in Borås, Sweden. “We’ve never had to explain to a parent why the kids are outside, everybody understands that it’s good for them – the fresh air, the big space.

The youngest ones have fantastic motor skills, they learn early to get across rocks and logs. And there are fewer conflicts and infections, because the kids are not on top of each other all the time. There’s also less noise. We see a lot of advantages about being outside.”

Into the Woods for Learning “I know that living in a city, with all of our busy daily lives, families often struggle to find time to drop everything and head into the woods. It feels exciting and important to create an educational space where that is prioritized, and where kids and their parents have the opportunity to learn and enjoy it together,” says Malkah Bird.

“In the woods they don’t need any toys,” Mållberg says. “There are so many things for them to do and they come up with so many games. They’ll find a stick and make it into something; the big rock becomes a slide and so forth.

The Benefits of Learning in Nature Can Last a Lifetime In nature, children’s interactions also tend to become more imaginative and allow for elaborate role-playing games. “Play in itself has a therapeutical effect on children,” says environmental psychologist Fredrika Mårtensson at SLU.

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