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Getting Students out of the Box – Outdoor Learning

–  Priya Nicholas (Grade 3 B Homeroom educator)

  Today, with practically limitless access to electronic devices and the Internet, it may seem that for students it is enough to open a website that contains information about forests to be satisfied. However, exploring the world with the help of computers is not as effective as taking students out of the classroom and letting them see the real world with their own eyes.

You can find Inspiration outside…

   The biggest advantage of the outdoor education is that children start to enjoy the process of learning because they not only read about birds in their region, for instance, but can get experience by finding this bird in the forest recognizing its unique singing or discovering its usual location. When children are not only observing but are also actively involved to the process of education, they feel more interested in the subject because they see how much sense it makes. Besides, if you see that your children are engaged by discussion about these birds, you can be absolutely sure that they start to enjoy your class even more.

Why do teachers love Outdoor activities?

   Outdoor learning is getting more popular because students usually benefit from being involved into different activities. First of all, theoretical background should always be supported by experience-based learning. Learning outside the classroom helps children feel the nature better and become more concerned about the environmental issues, which is also crucial today.

  By learning outside the classroom together, students become closer with each other and learn how to collaborate and perform teamwork. Another important outcome of the outdoor education is that students improve their social skills and experience their individual growth. This makes sense because what a student is afraid of doing in a formal classroom setting, he/she can easily do outside because he/she won’t have any psychological limitations and will be more relaxed.

Critical thinking-An Important life skill

–  C.R.KIRTICA (Grade 1A Homeroom educator)

Introduction

  Critical thinking is a process of using focus and self-control to solve problems.
Critical thinking skills are part of everyday existence of human mankind. They help us to make good decisions, understand the consequences of our actions and help to solve problems. From putting together puzzles, completing a maze, to figuring out a solution to a problem are few day-to-day use cases for critical thinking skills.

How do identify if my child is a critical thinker?

  Being able to say whether a child can agree or disagree with something, and why, is a sign that the child is thinking critically.
For example: you can encourage the child to give instances or reasons that show why they agree or disagree with something.
Also, suggest further to probe the child on their perspective of right or wrong, true or false, okay or not okay on different instances/scenarios/situations.
In other words, let the child take the position or be in that situation, evaluate, if necessary, eliminate.

To develop critical thinking

  The best way to develop the habit of critical thinking in children is by encouraging into a habit of questioning about his/her opinion and thoughts.

There are some simple ways to try out this:

Ask for examples: ‘can you give me an example?’
Ask for additional information: ‘ can you say more about this?’
Ask for explanation: ‘can you say what do you mean by…?’
Ask why: get them to provide clarification, justification, purpose or motivation.
Ask for other conditions: ‘Can you say what if would depend on?’

Requisites to become a critical thinker

  If the child is to become a critical thinker, he/she must be a good listener with good questioning skills. Being a good listener means not just stopping yourself from talking, but it is an attempt to understand, giving the other person space to think and talk, and also not imposing your thoughts or inferences on them.

Creative ways to practice critical thinking

  • Doodling: By encouraging the child to draw a scene to explain his/her thoughts. He/she needs critical thinking skills to depict one’s own thoughts into pictures.

  • Role play: Bring in a real-world problem like water scarcity, improper drainage, littered roads, etc….to pretend play. Ask the child to think of novel solutions and also, if possible, to implement at their level. It is one of the best ways to inculcate critical thinking.

  • Model yourself: As a parent, the most important that you can do to make your child a good critical thinker is to model yourself as a good critical thinker. They notice, monitor and evaluate your thinking skills. As an adult, if necessary, take steps to improve your skills.

  • Promote child’s interest: Knowing your child’s interest is the important step in critical thinking. The child can think critically only to the problems that they are in their area of interest.