Outdoor learning and experiences are a valuable (and fun) part of education for kids. At these international schools in Singapore, experiential learning outdoors is as much a part of the curriculum as learning in the classroom.
Dulwich College (Singapore) outdoor learning programmes
The team at Dulwich College (Singapore) believes that education goes beyond books, screens, bricks and mortar. The purpose of its outdoor learning programme is to develop creativity through exploration, build resilience through challenge as well as foster environmental, individual and social responsibility through community interaction. These can be achieved through a combination of outdoor play, adventurous activities, team building exercises, environmental service projects and expeditions in Singapore and beyond. Through these experiential learning programmes, students are given the opportunity to connect with nature and each other. They also learn how to think critically, cope under challenging circumstances and adapt to change with compassion, empathy and integrity.
During the College’s annual Adventure Week, Junior School students focus on developing a breadth of core competencies. On water, students paddle a range of craft; on land, they hike and cycle, and at camp, they cook their own food, build shelters and learn how to start a fire. In the Senior School, students undertake a progressively challenging expedition, either by raft, stand-up paddleboard, bike or hike. The expedition programme culminates in Year 12 when they choose to plan either their own expedition or an adventurous service project. During the academic year, students can participate in a variety of experiential CCAs from Beavers, Cubs and Scouts to an Outdoor Adventure CCA, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, and a learn-to-cycle programme.
Programmes that bring learning outdoors
Dulwich is the first international school in Singapore to introduce Forest School into the DUCKS early years programme. Forest School is accredited by the UK’s Forest School Learning Initiative. Dulwich pioneered the movement here to provide real world learning and problem-solving opportunities to young children in a natural environment. Forest School builds on the Nordic concept of friluftsliv or “going back to the forest”, where the landscape provides both the stimulus and the arena of learning. This allows children to develop and apply academic skills, build emotional resilience and learn to manage risk through self-initiated interactions with nature.
71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8
6890 1003 | singapore.dulwich.org
Singapore American School experiential learning
For one week during the second semester, all regularly scheduled high school courses at Singapore American School (SAS) cease. Students and teachers participate in the Interim Semester (IS). First started 50 years ago, this global programme is a required off-campus experience. It’s designed to provide high school students with diverse experiential learning experiences beyond the curriculum.
It allows small groups of students and teachers to explore a challenge, theme or place. Its goals include challenging oneself, working with peers, getting to know teachers outside the school setting, exploring new places, skills and subjects, and helping others. Courses vary from year to year. They range from activities in Singapore to international trips to nations in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Some opportunities offered to SAS students include trekking in the Himalayas of Nepal, service in the Philippines, exploring the spirituality and culture of Tibet, investigating the history of Turkey, student teaching at SAS’s elementary and middle schools and sailing or golfing in Singapore.
A student recalls a recent experiential learning activity
“A week in Morocco completely altered my perspective on how I view the Islam as a religion. The experience broke down the negative stigma around a religion that was founded upon the ideas of peace and coexistence. We learned the basics of the faith and also had the opportunity to talk to educators and scholars. They shared their interpretation of the religious texts as well as their personal opinion on how the religion should be practiced.”
— Alexus Buechel, Class of 2020
40 Woodlands Street 41
6363 3403 | sas.edu.sg
The Grange Institution outdoor learning environment
The Grange says that it constantly strives to create an outdoor learning environment that helps its students see the wonders and processes of nature. By committing to creating experiential learning both inside and outside the classroom, learning occurs everywhere, at all times.
To this end, the school has been building on its Green Granger Initiative since 2020. Students have been actively engaged in outdoor learning activities such as organic gardening, recycling programmes and organising awareness campaigns. These enhance their understanding of environmental issues and nurture them to become global citizens.
The Grange has also recently designed a unique in-house Green Granger Trail lined up with four different zones such as the Fruit Tree Zone and Mini Pond Community. This allows their students to experience first-hand the power of observation, immersed in a green environment.
More about the Green Granger Trail
The trail is designed to be a living, breathing classroom. Each zone is crafted to nurture curiosity and deepen the child’s understanding of the natural world. The experiential learning trail is made up of four different stops. Students start off by observing the resilience of plant life at the climbers and creepers zone, followed by the microcosm of life at the mini man-made pond to understand the delicate balance of ecosystems. The trail continues to unveil the wonders of the fruit-bearing trees lined up along the school’s boundaries. At the final stop, students gain further insights into fruit and vegetable harvests at the farm alley.
449 Yio Chu Kang Road