University of Padova (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 5879-5887
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.1377
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
This paper will expose a series of testimonies of some educational realities, formal and non-formal, which provide for the implementation of projects extensive in contact with the natural environment, highlighting and subsequently analysing the positive aspects that this type of experience promotes in children of developmental age. The outdoor education is increasing, as a response to the emerging need for society to rediscover contact with nature. The birth of outdoor realities, as well as the adaptation and modification of facilities and educational spaces for the implementation of outdoor programs, is also a consequence of the health crisis caused by COVID, which sees in the outdoor environment a lower incidence of risks. It is also connected to the climate crisis the planet is going through, which sees the need for a more careful and structured focus on issues of environmental education and sustainable development.

This research considers the positive aspects arising from contact with nature through interviews with teachers and educators. The potentialities identified by teachers and educators concern the concrete and experiential nature of the projects and the stimulation of the child's spontaneity.

From the point of view of physical and motor development, through structured outdoor activities or free play, the child can exercise and develop gross motor skills such as jumping, throwing, climbing, running, turning, or somersaulting, and skills involving fine motor skills, such as building artifacts and manipulating various materials. Outdoor settings are particularly suited to offering stimulation that involves the use of the senses, the first tools through which children learn about the reality around them. In general, the situations created in an outdoor setting are challenging, involve overcoming obstacles and at the same time becoming aware of one's limits, particularly through problem-solving situations in which one must adjust and control one's cognitive resources to achieve a goal. These types of experiences are a testing ground for life, for example, through the care of the garden, each child can learn the value of patience, waiting, constancy, and slowness proper to the times of nature. Moreover, methodically, the concept of order is acquired, and strong involvement improves the levels of attention and concentration and active listening. Finally, it is worth mentioning a sort of "added value" that these experiences give to the child, that is, to work on long-term projects and to put himself in real situations that can help him discover attitudes and orientations for future life. Contact with nature contributes to establishing an emotional bond with it, which allows the users of the proposals to work on the relationships and ties that they establish, both with the environment and with peers or educators. The collaboration that sees them engaged in the construction of a common project, such as the construction of an artifact, a shelter in the woods, or the care of the garden, involves the acquisition of social skills, essential for community life and group, whether small or large. Through contact with nature children learn to take care of plants, animals, and the territory in general, maturing empathic attitudes of respect towards themselves and towards others.

Living in contact with nature can contribute to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and can decrease the incidence of some diseases, for example, childhood obesity.
Outdoor, environment, spontaneity, development, lifestyle.