Outdoor experiences are a valuable part of education and vital for kids (and fun too!). 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)
Dulwich College (Singapore) (DCSG) 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, learn how to think critically, cope under challenging circumstances and adapt to change with compassion, empathy and integrity.
Students can also participate in many outdoor education programmes. These include Scouts, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and other co-curricular activities. In Year 12, the DCSG programme culminates with the Shackleton Project. It’s the most demanding of all the adventure challenges. Students who select this project spend 10 months planning every aspect of a week-long student-led expedition.
Trips that encourage experiential learning
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
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 outdoor 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
The Grange Institution’s (TGI) award-winning Green Granger programme is a nature-inspired outdoor learning initiative for N2 to Year 6 students. It’s part of efforts to champion education for sustainable development. It complements TGI’s Cre8tors-in-Action learning outcomes, which include Respecting the Environment and Active Citizenship.
At the school’s eco-garden, teachers conduct science lessons and students experience a variety of outdoor learning activities. These include urban farming by being involved in growing and harvesting. Outdoor learning at The Grange goes beyond the campus. The school has conducted field trips to a hydroponics farm, bee farm as well as the NEWater plant. This experiential learning builds on what the students have learnt in their classroom. It helps students to better understand the topics, making learning come alive from textbooks and video clips.
For the second year running, TGI clinched the gold award for Best Environmental Initiative at the Singapore Education Awards 2022. TGI also recently became the first school in Singapore to be a founding member of The Alliance for Sustainable Schools. The school joins a growing global network of schools working towards accelerating the transition towards a sustainable future. Starting from the first quarter of 2023, TGI has embarked on a phased design and development of a 1.5-acre space. This will further extend nature-inspired learning opportunities for students.
A recent outdoor education activity
There are multiple plots of land set aside for TGI learners to conduct experiments and learn about the natural environment. Recently, Year 3 students conducted a science experiment with the guidance of their teacher to determine the effectiveness of their self-created fertiliser. They tested their fertiliser against the ones that the school’s gardener typically uses and made observations on any differences between the growth of plants. Their active participation in this outdoor learning activity helps to further develop their sense of curiosity. This leads them to be more engaged in their learning process.
449 Yio Chu Kang Road
EtonHouse International School
Outdoor education is an integral part of the curriculum at all campuses of EtonHouse International School. In particular, classes at the Sentosa campus leverage the island as a canvas of exploration. The campus is surrounded by natural foliage, habitats and wildlife that spark enriching conversations.
Children at the Sentosa campus have at least an hour of daily outdoor play, rain or shine. Rainy-day play is a favourite! The whole school including pre-nursery enjoys walks to the beach, scavenger hunts in nature and visual arts outdoors, to name just a few activities. A visiting nature expert from NParks also runs a nature series programme twice a term. Primary students also have PE at locations around the island as part of the Island Adventurer programme. Students do athletics and yoga on the beach, team-building games at Nestopia and Hydrodash, and cross-country running and treks on the Siloso nature trail.
A recent outdoor experiential learning activity
As part of its Island Adventurer programme, EtonHouse Sentosa teamed up with external experts from Balance Academy to bring unexpected and creative experiential learning opportunities that foster an open and flexible mindset in children. On the beach, children do yoga movements to build on their agility, reactions and core strength, adding a spin to basic yoga by incorporating fitness, teamwork and coordination exercises. For example, learning a new butterfly pose while playing an imaginative game of adding toppings to a pretend pizza in the sand. This helped the children to remain in the pose for much longer, challenging their endurance while having fun.
14 locations island-wide