Introduction Outdoors environment provide ideal conditions for children learning and development because of its rich diversity, which facilitates active engagement with the natural space (Wells, 2000). One of the intended objectives of learning is to promote independence in children from early age and it is the desire of parents for their children to become confident individuals in their various adulthood roles…
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Because of the apparent differences between the outdoors and indoors environment, the roles of practitioners in promoting children independence vary in these two distinct learning situations. This paper explores the various roles of the practitioner when young children are learning both in outdoors and indoors in fostering the child’s independence. Wells (2000) argues that developing a confident and independent child involves creating an enabling environment that promotes mental health. Promoting independence in children is a multidisciplinary and social cultural undertaking, intended to achieve the favourable conditions that enhance the wellbeing of the child. This undertaken through various activities that enhance emotional resilience, through activities formulated to encourage self-confidence, and life skills, such interpersonal skills and resilience (Barnes, 2000). In learning institution, promotion of mental health or independence in children is achieved through various activities in both the outdoors and indoors setting. Nicol (2002, p93) defines outdoors environment as “a place that provides opportunities for a person to interact with the dynamic systems of nature and its elements”. ...
Besides interacting with the environmental aspects, outdoors learning provides the children with limitless opportunities of engaging in social interactions with their peers and other members of the community (Kellert, 2005, p96-106). Outdoor environment provides three major types of learning, including environmental, personal and social education (Nicol, 2002, p52). This form of learning is accompanied by physical activities that play critical role in normal development of children and tackling health challenges such as obesity. Therefore exposing children to interact freely with the natural environment provides them with opportunities of engaging productively with nature (AIR, 2005). Higgins (1996) argues that failure to familiarize children to the environment adequately could induce fear of the natural world in them. Outdoors learning involves a wide variety of activities. Therefore, the role of practitioners is mainly restricted to facilitating the activities, using different multisensory and experiential techniques (Education Scotland, 2008, p83). These approaches promote children’s involvement in various physical, spiritual emotional, aesthetic and cognitive experiences as components of learning. Organising outdoor learning activities requires utmost consideration of the various relationships necessary for optimising the learning experience and ensuring the needs of the children are met. Thus, the practitioner should consider relationship between participants involved, the activities and the place where the outdoor activities take place (Education Scotland, 2008). According to Barnes (2000, p39), children need space and freedom and these necessities underscore the importance of outdoor learning. Space provides
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