Leaving technology behind with outdoor learning

Taya Fast / February 27, 2019

Kids are fascinated by technology, as they were with the journalism camera.
(Taya Fast / BCIT News)

According to the Canadian paediatric society the amount of technology being used in school continues to increase and the highest amount of educational TV is used at the preschool level. CPS studies also say that three-quarters of parents are concerned with how much time kids spend on media.

“We are finding that children are having troubles emotionally regulating, there’s a lot of sensory issues right now with children. It makes it hard for them to be in a classroom setting” – Nadine Knelson, Owner of Leap for Joy Open Air Learning.

Programs like Leap for Joy Open Air Learning are changing the way kids learn. The program is based off of the Forest school model – a natural approach to education. The classrooms are completely outside, leaving technology and embracing nature.

“It’s education outdoors, we try to keep as 100 % outdoors as we can, but we do like field trips.” – Nadine Knelson, Owner of Leap for Joy Open Air Learning.

Kids are well-occupied to be outside all day, with many layers of clothing.
(Taya Fast / BCIT News)

The center shares the same goals as a regular classroom but kids have full range to explore and learn at their own pace. A typical school day starts with a warm-up song in a greeting circle. The class then hikes along the trail to base camp, also known as ‘kid-island’ as the children have nicknamed the space.

The kids spend the majority of the day free playing with tools, in forts, in water, etc and exploring. Before the end of the day, there is a shared snack and circle time.

“I like to say we like to teach the four ‘R’s, in school it would be the three ‘R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Here outdoors we like to teach the four ‘R’s which are being resilient, responsible, respectful, resourceful.” – Nadine Knelson, Owner of Leap for Joy Open Air Learning.

Classes run rain or shine and Knelson says for parents who are worried about weather –

“Be prepared, there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” – Nadine Knelson, Owner of Leap for Joy Open Air Learning.

One boy is ‘fishing’ in a shallow river with a homemade fishing rod.
(Taya Fast / BCIT News)