Learning at school doesn’t just happen in the classroom! Outdoor experiences – whether it’s exploring the playground, walking in the neighbourhood, or on a trip across the world, is a valuable part of education. Hands-on learning about the environment is vital for kids too. We find out what programmes the international schools in Singapore (and one across the causeway!) have on offer.
Canadian International School
At the Canadian International School, the length and focus of outdoor learning programmes varies according to age group. In kindergarten, outdoor learning is inquiry- and play-based and takes place at the school’s outdoor centres. In the older grades, it involves lessons in the outdoor centres and the amphitheatre, as well as field trips, excursions and the Open Minds programme – hands-on learning experiences in various settings such as Fort Canning Park, Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve and the Eco Garden at the Science Centre.
A trip to Gardens by the Bay
The school’s Grade 2 students recently participated in an Open Minds trip to Gardens by the Bay. The purpose of the visit was to explore how water is transported around a plant and how photosynthesis works. In one activity, the students played a hands-on game in teams. Each team member was allocated a job and could collect a colour block after accomplishing it. The blocks represented different elements involved in photosynthesis such as sunlight, carbon dioxide, water and chlorophyll. Students then acted out how these elements combine to produce glucose. Instead of showing students a diagram of the process, the activity offered an authentic and memorable learning experience.
Tanjong Katong Campus: 371 Tanjong Katong Road
Lakeside Campus: 7 Jurong West Street
Dover Court International School
Outdoor education at Dover Court International School starts in the Early Years. Students climb trees and get muddy during playtime. School trips are a fully integrated part of the curriculum, with overnight excursions starting in Year 3. There’s a gradual increase in the challenges presented to students to prepare them for more adventurous expeditions in Upper Secondary. Students in Year 10 and beyond can also opt to take part in The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, which is a voluntary and non-competitive scheme offering practical, cultural and adventurous activities. By getting the students out of their comfort zones, the school hopes to build their confidence and develop skills like resilience and collaboration.
A trip to Pulau Sugi, Indonesia
160 Year 5 students spent four days in Pulau Sugi in December. Covering the topic of “Island Life” as part of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), the trip brought students out of classroom to get a real taste of life on an island. They explored the jungle during hikes, went shrimping, cooked dinner over an open fire and learned the importance of tides while finding out more about hermit crabs. Working in teams and overcoming obstacles that they don’t usually encounter helped to strengthen the cohort on individual and group levels. The students went home with big smiles, muddy clothes, hair smelling of bonfire and increased confidence.
Marlborough College Malaysia
Marlborough College Malaysia offers many outdoor educational opportunities for its students, from Nursery (where they have their own Forest School) to boarders who regularly attend outdoor excursions and help on the school farm. Year 4 to 8 students have residential trips that last up to six nights, starting at local centres during the lower years and progressing to international locations such as Thailand and Indonesia. Year 9 and 10 students experience leadership and outdoor pursuit trips in Kota Tinggi.
A trip to Kota Tinggi, Malaysia
Before their trip, students undergo an eight-week course during the school day to learn various skills such as camp cooking, fire building and first aid. These skills are then put to test in a challenging three-day two-night expedition in Kota Tinggi, with the aim to build resilience and teamwork amongst the students. At the end of each day, the students are required to set up camp for the night. The training for this trip is also used to prepare students for expeditions as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Silver International Award.
Jalan Marlborough, 79200 Iskandar Puteri, Johor
St. Joseph’s Institution International
Outdoor learning is a key part of education at St. Joseph’s Institution International. All students have the opportunity to participate in expeditions from Grade 1 to Grade 11. Students are made to step out of their comfort zone, develop resilience and confidence, and support one another. On the way, they pick up useful skills, discover innovative ways to overcome obstacles and view challenges in a more positive light. Activities include climbing, trekking, kayaking, snorkelling, camping, white-water rafting, mountain biking and more.
A trip to Tioman Island, Malaysia
In May 2019, students set off to Tioman to participate in a week of outdoor education and investigation of important environmental issues on the island. During the trip, students were engaged in activities such as hiking and camping in the jungle, kayaking around the island, and learning about the turtle project at Tioman, while reflecting on the global issue of plastic pollution in seas and oceans. They had a wonderful week of collaborative learning, thought-provoking conversations, with many opportunities to gain appreciation for the great outdoors.
UWC South East Asia
The Outdoor Education programme is a huge part of the UWCSEA experience, providing students with opportunities to develop UWCSEA profile qualities of resilience, commitment to care, self-management, communication and collaboration. Students take part in a series of expeditions that start in Grade 1 with a sleepover at school and culminates in Grade 11 with the independently planned Project Week.
A trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Grade 8 students at UWCSEA recently travelled to Chiang Mai. Their 10-day journey included adventure experiences such as whitewater rafting, caving and trekking as well as elements of cultural and self discovery. Students were able to explore some of Northern Thailand’s beautiful wildernesses, engaging in local culture and tradition while gaining an understanding and awareness of self and others. They also experienced a farm stay where they learnt about rice farming. They were immersed in the entire journey of rice production, from the fields to consumption. Going through the long and tiring process of harvesting, winnowing and preparing rice for their meals made the students more aware of food wastage as they experienced first-hand how much effort goes into rice production.
East Campus: 1 Tampines Street 73
Dover Campus: 1207 Dover Road