It’s well recognised that learning in nature and outdoor experiences are a valuable part of a child’s education. But what’s on offer at Singapore’s international schools, and what benefits do children gain from exposure to green spaces? Here we look at two school outdoor programmes.
Canadian International School
Outdoor learning plays an integral part of a student’s education at CIS. No matter the age or subject, the school aims to extend lessons into the outdoors whenever there is the opportunity for students to learn in a purposeful manner.
The length and focus of CIS’s outdoor learning programmes varies depending on the age group. In Kindergarten, outdoor learning is inquiry- and play-based and takes place most of the time in their Outdoor Discovery Centres. In the older grades, it involves lessons in the centres as well as field trips, an excursion week and an ‘Open Minds’ hands-on learning experience. Settings include Fort Canning, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and the Eco Garden at the Science Centre.
Outdoor Discovery Centres are one of the main aspects of their outdoor learning programme. The centres, located at both campuses, are used as an extension of their indoor classrooms and support learning in ways that extend far beyond a traditional playground. Some of their key features include eco-ponds where children learn about water ecosystems, and a herb garden for teaching children about health and nutrition and the role the environment plays in growing food.
Outdoor Education is one of the five elements of UWCSEA’s learning programme with a range of experiences offered to students across the Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculums.
Grade 1 students spend a night at the school, and this is often the first time they’ve spent a night apart from their parents. As students progress through school, the time spent away on these ‘school camps’ increases and the trips become more adventurous, with an increased focus on expedition-style journeys in Grades 7, 8 and 9. In some cases, trips for older students allow them to fulfil requirements for the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA, the Singapore name for the Duke of Edinburgh Award).
Examples of recent trips include the Forest Adventure Camp in Malaysia, designed to offer Grade 3 students exciting and age-appropriate experiences such as river tracing (‘canyoning’), campfire building and shelter construction. Through these learning experiences, the students grow as individuals, and develop a deeper and stronger community together.
Grade 11 students, on the other hand, participate in Project Week, where they work to a limited individual budget and, in small groups, travel unaccompanied overseas for a minimum of five days, with responsibility for every aspect of their trip (overseen by a school member of staff as their ‘sponsor’). For many students, this represents the pinnacle of their time at UWCSEA.
Find out more about education options in Singapore in our schools section