Why Outdoor Education is Crucial to Child Development

Over the years, there have been many studies and research into outdoor education and child development. These studies have concluded that with increased exposure to nature and the outdoors, the learning process is boosted meaning increased creative thinking, motivation and wellbeing.

Any classroom-based teacher will vouch that there are often days where getting children or young people to pay attention can be difficult. Removing walls and encouraging outdoor education can improve this considerably. Alternative education with outdoor learning increases exposure to the sun, therefore raising levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and other nutrients in the body, keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. This is important to a child’s physical development. However, there are also many other educational benefits:

1. Boost the learning process

Research carried out into child development with increased access to the outdoors has shown that nature has rejuvenating effects on attention span.The Scottish Government’s guide to Outdoor Learning illustrates that ‘the multi-sensory experience outdoors helps children and young people to retain knowledge more effectively.’ Essentially, outdoor learning, and this form of alternative education enhances the learning experience. The report states that this is because there are more opportunities for pupils who are part of on outdoor programme to learn with their whole bodies on a large scale, with increased freedom than those just within the classroom.

2. It enhances creative thinking

Outdoor environments act as rich stimulus for creative thinking and learning.Creativity is a process that involves the discovery of new ideas. Your environment is a huge factor to this process.Outdoor grounds are key in increasing pupil engagement. With outdoor activities such as hiking or water rafting, you encourage young people to think differently as they emerge themselves into learning or improving new skills. They can also learn the importance of taking risks and overcoming challenges and obstacles.

3. Increase motivation & improve wellbeing

The government-commissioned Natural Connections Demonstration project found that 92% of schools said that outdoor programmes and alternative learning improves pupil health and wellbeing and were more receptive to learning.The project, which investigated the behaviour and attitudes of children from 125 schools across the South West of England concluded that children are happier, healthier and more motivated to learn when the classroom is outside.

4. Reduces stress

Outdoor education improves learning in subtle ways. A change in location to somewhere with natural elements such as the forest, produces a sense of tranquillity. This calming effect has been known to reduce stress in children and young people. This can be extremely beneficial for troubled children who need a break from their normal routines.


Our Wilderness Experiences programmes help to provide outdoor education for the children and young people in our care. Looking beyond standard approaches to education, our alternative education outcomes are achieved with support from outdoor activities such as team building. If you have any questions relating to our Wilderness Experiences, please contact us at

Find out more about alternative education in our blog ‘How Alternative Education Can Boost a Child’s Confidence‘.

What Others Say About Us

I am truly taken aback by the level of care you have shown. The staff have gone out of their way to show him the attention and care that he has never had. When I visited him, it was like I was looking at a different child to what he was before he came. He was not like a child in care, he was like a child in a family. You have literally saved his life.

Social Worker

All children and young people thrive, and they make progress while living at the home. Because of the services provided the children and young people experience an individualised, stable and consistent home life. Children and young people benefit from the integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to education and care. They each achieve their full potential and, in many cases, do so beyond previous expectations.


I am so grateful to the AWW team for their dedication and commitment to caring and supporting Sam. He recently reported that being at there gave him the space to think and the opportunity to reflect on his attitude and make plans for his future.

Social Worker

I have to share my delight at Luke’s progress at AWW. Thanks to your support, in the last 17 weeks Luke and has turned his life around significantly. From where he has come from to where he is now, I am so proud of him.

Social Worker

The placement was really good and beneficial to me. The staff were all really supportive and nice and always made themselves available to me if I had any problems. The outdoor activities that were offered helped me to have a better outlook and showed me that I can do so much more in life, and it really helped me process and made me feel like a better person.


As METCO Officer for Cumbria Police I have regular contact with the team at AWW in relation to vulnerable children at risk of CSE and going missing. If a specific incident has occurred, the Home Manager and I speak on the phone to discuss the best way forward. She also attends CSE risk assessment meetings and we receive Philomena Protocol forms when a young person arrives in placement.

Cumbria Police