When you think of outdoor education for elementary school students, what comes to mind? A day spent hiking and exploring tide pools? An overnight camping trip? What about a weekend at an outdoor education centre?
These are all are great ways to get students out and about in nature, but outdoor education doesn’t have to involve long, intricate field trips. It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, either, or riddled with red tape and permission slips.
No, it can happen right here at school, in just a few hours. But how?
Kites are a fun, interactive and sensory-rich way to introduce students to the natural world. Children of all ages and abilities can touch, feel and engage with the outdoor environment—skills that can’t be developed in an indoor classroom, no matter how hard you try.
But the benefits of using kites for outdoor education go beyond communing with nature. By challenging children in a structured outdoor environment, we’re laying the foundation for a solid future. The lessons and skills they learn are transferable to the classroom and to life, and can even benefit you, the teacher!
Kites introduce students to activities and skills that many are trying for the first time
But hasn’t everyone flown a kite, you ask? Nope. While it may seem like a childhood rite of passage, our research shows that 90% of early elementary school children have never flown a kite! It’s an experience every child should have!
Kites give teachers insight into individual students’ learning styles
An indoor environment can feel frustrating and restrictive to some students, both socially and cognitively. So when you move the lesson outdoors, you have the chance to observe the students in their natural state—laughing, playing and learning with friends. You’ll see how they work together (or not together), how they use the learning materials (the kites), how they transition from challenge to challenge, and how they each tackle these challenges in their own way.
Kites allow students to test and expand their own capabilities
Children need the freedom to discover, investigate and imagine. After all, it’s the only way they can gain a practical understanding of the world around them.
Kites are really special in this regard because they provide meaningful, hands-on learning experiences with no bounds. While flying their kite in the great outdoors, students have the opportunity to explore the relationship between their actions and the environment. They can try this or try that, learn what works and what doesn’t work, and find their own way to rise to the challenge. This type of self-directed learning (under your lightly-guiding, watchful eye, of course) boosts students’ self-confidence, helps them achieve their potential, and gives them the tools necessary to grow into curious and self-aware adults.
Kites let children be children
In today’s increasingly wired world, kids spend much of their time indoors, glued to computers, televisions and video games. What society is quickly forgetting, however, is that outdoor play is a vital element in children’s growth. It’s essential for a child’s cognitive expansion, and has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve mood and promote happy and healthy relationships. (Kids don’t need to know this, though. For them it’s fun and that’s all that matters!)
Image courtesy of pawpaw67.