Learning Outside the Classroom

In the broadest sense, the curriculum consists of all the experiences a child has during their time at school. By careful planning we aim to create an environment in which all those experiences are positive, an environment in which all children can learn and enjoy success.

Learning Outside of the Classroom at Heathfield
At Heathfield, we are fortunate to have some of the most spectacular grounds of any School in the country! We have established outdoor learning areas throughout the dingle, by the river and beside the waterfall, and we have added to the outdoor resources term on term: including a fire pit, a musical garden, a wildflower area and, most recently, a cooking tripod. Children have enjoyed a range of activities, from team-building, to bread-making, through to maths and English, and including using scale models to recreate the Great Fire of London, all using the resources literally on our doorstep.  Learning beyond the classroom offers a whole host of opportunities that cannot always be found within confines of a classroom’s four walls:
Making learning engaging
Take maths outside and have children estimate then time how long it would take to run, hop and skip across the playing field.  They can discuss it outdoors and create a graph back in the classroom. Creative writing is so much better when you are sitting in the trees! Younger children created clocks and sundials using natural materials. Key Stage 1 were able to use sticks in the river to show the different patterns of river flow.
Making learning relevant
Taking learning beyond the classroom means that there are dozens of opportunities to make learning concepts real and relevant by showing them in a more realistic context.  Many concepts which can be difficult to get a grasp of in the classroom are a lot easier to understand in the big wide world, set in context. Experimenting is also a fantastic way to learn – very young children learn a huge amount about volume and textures by simple things like sand and water play, whilst older children will enjoy becoming nature detectives and learning about minibeasts and their habitats. Plus it can be a lot more fun outdoors!
Nurturing creativity and imagination
Taking children beyond the classroom is like unclipping their wings.  Suddenly their minds are free to explore and their creativity is liberated.  Difficult concepts can be explored in a more practical way, and the most able can apply their creativity on a grand scale. Heathfield children are encouraged to play creatively and to explore the environment safely – children from Key Stage 1 found the materials to make a pirate boat! At Heathfield, we also use the outdoors for play, and to host some of our forty clubs and activities: we can run a mountain bikes club on our own property, for example!
Developing interest in the environment and wider surroundings
We want Heathfield children to develop responsibility for their environment, and one of the best ways to develop that responsibility is to set children the challenge of looking after some part of it. This is a vital part of encouraging  our pupils to be responsible citizens. Children also ‘play detective’ to find out more about the extraordinary history of Heathfield House and the local area. 
Keeping healthy
Well directed outdoor learning opportunities can offer a great opportunity for fresh air and exercise.  Even pupils who aren’t naturally suited to sport can usually be tempted by a fun learning game without the pressure of needing to ‘win’.
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