Some problems have plagued our society for years and have been further highlighted by the health emergency, such as poor physical activity. This awareness is leading to the rediscovery of Outdoor Education that more and more schools are choosing for their pupils for the great educational benefit that entails from the physical point of view, but also emotional, psychological and behavioral. Outdoor activities allow children to increase their social skills. They are put in a context which is different from the one of the classrooms, so that they are encouraged to be in relationship with themselves and with others in a different way. By staying in contact with nature, they also increase their awareness of issues such as respect for the environment and the perception of themselves in the world.
The new edition of the course “Outdoor education for preschool teachers” took place in Palermo from 16/04/2023 to 22/04/2023. The participants came from Latvia, with Sniedze, Inita, Inese and Monta . They are all teachers from the same school in Latvia, “Prosum” school.
Starting from a general introduction of Outdoor Education, the participants looked at the benefits of Outdoor Education which is based on the experiential learning in the outdoors. Most of the benefits they analyzed and discussed are related to psycho-physical wellbeing, the development of students’ skills and the positive impact on interaction and socialization. During the course, the participants had also the opportunity to study the Italian education system and make a presentation of their own school in order to seize any differences regarding methods and approaches between the two systems.
Moving forward, the participants learnt how the Montessori method works and became aware of the principles on which it is based. This method was useful for the participants because they learnt the value of total trust in children and their abilities, so that students are put in the position to learn with serenity without the urgency of reaching everything and immediately. We focused on this approach because the participants had the chance to visit a local kindergarten, which is an eco-school that uses the Montessori method. During the visit, our teachers had the opportunity to see pupils interacting with each other and with nature as well. They visited the classrooms and they were explained how the kindergarten works and what kind of activities pupils normally do. This approach allowed participants to acquire more knowledge about the safety of outdoor activities that they can provide to their pupils in their home schools.
Another part of this course was focused on the contribute of the Kurt Hann’s principles to the Outdoor Learning. The participants had the opportunity to go to a park where they experienced different games and practical activities in the natural environment. They had the chance to increase their skills of socialization, inclusion, collaboration, empathy, creativity and self-discovery in a context of mutual respect and care for the surrounding environment and nature.
Moreover, the preschool teachers tested their ability to plan the outdoor space in the most important beach of Palermo. They created a map of that outdoor space, taking into consideration all the interesting areas and also all the potentially dangerous areas.
The last part of the course consisted of learning green skills regarding climate change and sustainability. This aspect highlighted the importance of making students aware of their contribute to make a change in the global environmental crisis since the childhood, by discussing environmental success stories and focusing on quality life instead of environmental perfection.
In conclusion, we can state that participants have successfully learnt the value of practical activities in the outdoor context as a fundamental part of the education process. They will be able to replicate the activities they have carried out this week with their students demonstrating that in the external environment you can find insights to connect to the program contained in the books. This means stepping out of traditional teaching patterns, establishing a new connection between time spent outdoors and time spent in the classroom and introducing new methodologies and tools for children.
Discover more about this course here.
Welcome to the ELA Blog. Here you will find articles and photos of our courses and have a look at the topics addressed during the week in Bologna, Palermo and Tenerife. You will also have the chance to take a peek at our projects and check out what we have been up to.