At Kids Planet, we have put together our very own outdoor learning accreditation called ‘Udeskole’ that many of our nurseries are training towards or have already completed!
Udeskole is a Scandinavian concept that translates to “outdoor school” and is an educational approach that emphasises school-based outdoor learning. The concept of Udeskole focuses on making nature-based learning experiences an integral part of a child’s education, encouraging children to spend less time in the traditional classroom setting and more time outdoors.
The approach differs from what we would consider outdoor playtime, as through Udeskole children are actively participating in games and activities which can involve things such as studying local wildlife and observing plants. This unique method gets them directly engaged with nature and the environment around them, helping them to find their place in the world and develop their sense of self.
The Udeskole concept is growing in popularity around the world, and at Kids Planet we’re passionate about making it commonplace in all of our nurseries across the UK.
As humans, we were born to be outdoors. We began our time on earth fully immersed in the natural world, collaborating in tribes to survive but also thrive. Our evolution took place in these outdoor environments, and modern science now confirms that being in these environments brings a whole host of benefits.
Being outdoors brings about a sense of calm in our minds, lowers our blood pressure, and bolsters our immune system. All of this is concrete evidence that nature is where we belong, and being outdoors is what makes us inherently happy. However, we seem to have lost some of this connection to nature along the way.
In today’s modern world, we’re becoming more and more dislocated from nature, spending more time indoors than ever before. The lack of outdoor time we’re getting has far-reaching consequences on both our physical health and mental well-being. This is where Udeskole comes in.
The concept was born in Denmark, which unsurprisingly ranks as one of the top three happiest countries in the globe. This is largely attributed to how they’ve retained their profound appreciation for the outdoors, recognising its advantages and embedding it into their way of life. They believe in “friluftsliv,” which translates to “living in the open air,” which embodies this bond with nature – a lifestyle that entails spending a substantial portion of time outdoors from a young age.
Danish schools make outdoor time a regular part of their children’s learning day, and research has demonstrated that children experience notably elevated levels of joy and well-being, with improvements in their social interactions when learning outdoors as opposed to being confined to the classroom.
For them, it’s a culture – it’s what they do day in and day out. For us, the research speaks for itself – we need to hone in on their practices and embed them into our own curriculum.
Learning with nature has endless benefits for children, but some of these have gotten lost in translation over the years. As children become less active and spend more time looking at screens than they do climbing trees, Udeskole can help to reinstate our love for the outdoors and reattach us with nature.
Being outdoors in natural light produces serotonin which in turn makes us energetic, able to think and ready to act. Having high levels of serotonin boosts our mood and makes us much happier overall.
Through promoting an increase in outdoor activities, Udeskole contributes to improved physical activities and helps to tackle the risks of sedentary lifestyles and obesity by encouraging children to move in different ways.
Udeskole allows for a more holistic approach to education, incorporating both cognitive and experiential learning. As children are encouraged to engage with the natural world using their senses, they’re able to foster a deeper understanding of concepts that enhance their overall learning experience.
Nature has so much to offer in terms of different things to see and feel. This is perfect for a child’s sensory development as they are surrounded by so many different physical experiences that help to develop the sensory systems needed for the brain and nervous system.
Being in green spaces exposes children to micro-organisms that help to develop their immune systems and encourages them to breathe in cleaner air, which leads to positive impacts on their respiratory system.
Udeskole promotes social interactions and teamwork as children are encouraged to collaborate on outdoor activities, helping them learn how to communicate effectively and build relationships outside of the classroom.
Hands-on learning is incredibly important for a child’s development and by allowing them to directly observe and interact with the environment, the practical learning approach of Udeskole can improve all the different aspects of their educational journey.
Understanding the impacts that outdoor learning has on children heightened our passion to embrace and encourage this within our nursery settings here at Kids Planet. So much so, we launched our very own Udeskole-based accreditation to help other nurseries and education facilities follow suit.
The accreditation is aimed at those wanting to adopt this way of life within their nursery, created with the vision to help children, staff and the local community embrace a nature-based approach to everyday life.
Designed by our Head of Outdoor Learning, Rhiannon Mountain, our easy-to-follow five-module approach covers all aspects of helping children flourish outdoors with measurable learning outcomes.
We’ve worked with many learning providers on the Udeskole approach, helping them to recognise the benefits of outdoor learning and coordinate their own programmes of practical nature-led teaching.
Through implementing the Udeskole approach in our own settings, we have seen an inspiring transformation amongst the children who have embraced it and continue to benefit from their new and improved way of learning.
By having minimal resources and using what nature provides, we are seeing so much more imagination and collaboration. Not only that, but by providing children with more opportunities to be physically active, they are learning what they’re capable of and challenging themselves in a way which can’t be done indoors.