Natural learning is all about following natural curiosity, learning by experiencing, connecting with nature and valuing a creative approach. At the centre of the natural learning ethos lies the importance of caring for yourself, for each other and for the world around us.
P is for Playtime
Play is a natural activity. It is how children learn, their reason to be and their job. Children (and grown ups) of all ages learn through a playful approach. Freetime to play is the most important skill you can provide your child. Your presence and participation will make it all the better, for everyone.
Use natural items for play, whether cones, sticks and stones create a play village, a stacking and wobbling game or a piece of creative artwork.
Playing with a new material, like clay and paints, unlocks new ways of using them and works as a good introduction rather than planning and directing.
A new piece of technology, an unknown object like a typewriter, a musical instrument can all be discovered in a playful way, finding out as you go along and try it out, rather than reading the step-by-step instructions.
Q is for Questions
Questions are the building blocks of learning, providing the gateways to checking understanding and communicating ideas, to following new curiosities and making sense of the world around us. Encourage questions to be asked, whether the answers can be found or not, and answer questions with ideas, whether correct or not.
Come up with ten questions about nature you see during a walk, and even if you don’t know the science (especially if you don’t know the science) come up with an idea for an answer together. Why is the sky blue? How do birds fly? Having answers is only one skill; having ideas, using imagination, building on possibilities, generating new questions, asking others, thinking hard are all good use of learning time.
R is for Records
It is not necessary to record your learning but keeping a simple bank of achievements will stack up quickly and give a boost to look back through. It must be easy to manage; a collection of photos stored as a folder on a device, a list of ‘I can’ statements recognising new skills and new understandings, a daily diary entry noting the best part of each day or, if you are looking for a special notebook yo use, make your own natural paper.
Next time: Story-telling and Thinking time
Louise has taught in classrooms of all shapes and sizes, as a primary school teacher, forest school leader and trainer, outdoor learning consultant and researcher. She writes resources and stories for outdoor and woodland learning adventures using the natural learning ethos.