What is outdoor education?

Defining Outdoor Education

Outdoor education is a broad term encompassing any learning in, for, and about the outdoors. On this site, we use outdoor education to mean children from any and all educational environments regularly spending immersive time in nature with the goal of connecting them to the natural world. This can range from a formal lesson with clear objectives and outcomes, to a nature hike through a local park, to completely unstructured child-led play in a natural setting. 

Our curriculum is inspired by many sources and organizations, all of which are doing their own wonderful work related to connecting children to nature. Each organization has its own ethos and principles, and many of these are overlapping. The Nature Natalie Curriculum takes inspiration primarily from the Forest School approach and Jon Young’s Coyote Mentoring. Nature Natalie is not a licensed Forest School leader. She is a classroom teacher in a traditional elementary school with a passion for connecting her students to nature and helping other teachers do the same regardless of their educational environment. 

Forest schools are most often associated with preschools and kindergartens, but there is a growing recognition of the need for forest school-style programs to continue in the elementary school years. Additionally, although the Forest School model has traditionally been more popular and common Europe, it is gaining momentum here in the United States thanks to the work of organizations such as The American Forest Kindergarten Association

Benefits of Outdoor Education

Children who regularly spend time in nature demonstrate clear improvements in all areas of their development, including:

collaboration

creativity

problem solving 

language development

social skills

motivation and concentration

physical skills

academic performance