Forest Nursery Discoveries: Indoor Vs Outdoor Learning

It goes without saying that there are key differences and similarities between indoor and outdoor learning in terms of giving your children an enriching experience during their education.

Understanding where the two differ and where they come together is very important for parents and guardians. After all, knowing that your little ones are placed in the right environment will confirm that you made the right decision by choosing one nursery over another.

In this blog we’re going to be looking at indoor and outdoor learning, covering the benefits they offer and any other relevant information. Our goal here is to paint you the full picture to leave no stone unturned.

To help us in our exploration we first need to look at the definitions of both indoor and outdoor learning.

After that, we’ll look to answer another popular outdoor learning question, that being, which is better between the two? Later in the post we’ll also look at something known as a ‘forest nursery’ which is strictly an outdoor experience and therefore worth mentioning in this type of blog post.

So, let’s get started!

Multiple children with their arms in the air inside of a classroom

What is Indoor Learning?

As the name suggests, indoor learning takes place within classrooms and other dedicated play rooms. Inside, children have the freedom to develop a range of skills in a safe and secure environment.

Everything you see inside of a classroom is placed to ensure that students can explore their environment and discover new schemas, which enables them to learn. This is why the walls are often covered in drawings and other helpful materials; they create a stimulus for children’s imaginations and learning.

Do keep in mind that the size of indoor classrooms can and will vary. At The Hunny Pot Nursery we have multiple indoor learning environments to offer, each fit for a different age group.

Here, we’ll show you:

  • Roo’s Room: Fit for children from 12 weeks old, the Roo’s Room is a large open play room. One that allows children to explore and learn confidently under close supervision.
  • Kanga’s Rooms: Two interconnecting rooms that allow for free flow access. These rooms tend to be quite lively with children learning to develop their independence and start doing things for themselves and become more and more independent.
  • Tigger’s Rooms: These rooms are where we prepare children to transition to their first school. This involves age and developmentally appropriate resources and activities to ensure that every child meets or exceeds their EYFS goals.
  • Owl’s Rooms: Finally, our Owl’s rooms offer children a haven in which to relax and recharge. This is part of our programme which balances educational needs and leisure activities through games and craft workshops.

Practically every nursery you come across will offer indoor learning environments (unless otherwise stated). Forest nurseries, for example, are outdoor only learning spaces, but again, more on that later.

The Benefits of Indoor Learning

Learning indoors is very rewarding for children. It’s also where they’ll spend the majority of their time given how limited outdoor spaces can be during bouts of wet weather.

That being said, some nurseries do have sheltered areas that will cover your little ones from the rain. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we have an outdoor classroom that is sheltered. We will use this in inclement weather to ensure all the children get some outdoor time.

Here are some other benefits of indoor learning:

Comfortable Learning Spaces

Comfort is key when it comes to providing children with the right environment to learn and play in. Padding on chairs, floor mats, comfy carpets, and soft play areas allow children to go about their day without discomfort or distraction.

Important to Note: We should point out that outdoor learning environments are just as comfortable, if not more, thanks to how these spaces are laid out. For example, our Kanga’s Pocket outdoor area has comfy sand and water pits that are perfect for messy play!

Encourages Creativity

Indoors, children can engage their creativity when performing certain activities. Open-ended play, for example, allows children to approach learning in their own way without restrictions, thus letting their creativity and imagination run free. Schemas are provided to help scaffold this learning with every child, mostly through their key worker.

Activities that help children explore their creativity include:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Storytelling
  • Arts and crafts

Do keep in mind that these activities can be performed outdoors too. That being said, inside the classroom is where some children might feel a lot more comfortable. An effective nursery practitioner will keep this in mind when structuring activities.

Great for Sleep/Rest Time

Sleep is an important part of a child’s day at nursery. We’d go as far to say that rest is just as important as what your child will learn. You see, children need to restore their energy following any indoor or outdoor activities they’ve engaged in, which they do indoors in a comfortable and safe environment.

Our Roo’s Room is both comfortable and safe for babies from 12 weeks old. It’s a room that allows children to explore and rest in equal measure. Finding that balance between rest and play will benefit both indoor and outdoor play!

A child playing with leaves outside in a park

What is Outdoor Learning?

With outdoor learning, children learn through what they do, through what they encounter, and through what they discover. Outdoor learning is often referred to as ‘outdoor play’ in early years in case you’ve seen this term appear during your own research.

It’s only fair that we cover what outdoor learning spaces we offer at The Hunny Pot Nursery since we’ve already looked at our indoor spaces earlier – if only to give you a better idea of how varied outdoor learning spaces can be:

  • Roo’s Corner: This area makes sure that babies get plenty of time outdoors. In the summer, this provides some much-needed shade from the sun. In the winter, it provides fresh air without being exposed to the elements.
  • Kanga’s Pocket: Kanga’s pocket is an outdoor learning area where children can feel tucked away from the rest of the area. This pocket is where children can play in the mud kitchen and have access to the other areas, such as the storytelling space.
  • Christopher Robin’s Playground: Christopher Robin’s Playground is the second outdoor sheltered area that we have been developing to become a picnic area and an area where children can sit and play or to mould and generally develop their concentration or motor skills.
  • One Hundred Acre Wood: Climbing, digging, and exploring. You can do it all in our One Hundred Acre Wood! This is at the lower end of the garden along with our mud kitchen and bug hotel. Here children can plant flowers, vegetables, and herbs, and then watch them grow.
  • Galleons Leap: Further along in the garden, there is a larger area where children can climb and generally burn off energy. There you’ll also find a seating area with a vantage point, as well as dens in which children can play and explore.
  • Pooh Corner: Pooh’s Corner is an outdoor learning space where children can develop their gross motor skills and let their imaginations run free. This is a sheltered area that children have access to all year round regardless of weather conditions!

Not every nursery you come across will have access to its own outdoor learning spaces, which does limit what types of experiences your children can have during some of the most important years of their young lives. Be sure to keep that in mind when choosing where to enrol your little ones.

The Benefits of Outdoor Learning

Time outdoors for children is very important. Generally, playing outdoors has been known to help children develop their problem-solving skills, focus and self-discipline. This leads to such emotional benefits as reduced aggression and increased happiness!

“Just five minutes of ‘green exercise’ can produce rapid improvements in mental wellbeing and self-esteem, with the greatest benefits experienced by the young.”
– University of Essex

Here are three of the main benefits of outdoor learning:

Provides Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for children, and there’s no better source for it than being outside under direct sunlight.

Certain foods are also really good at giving your children these nutrients. Fish is a great source of Vitamin D which is why we’ve included it in the meals offered by the nursery. Check out this page for more information on the meals we offer here at The Hunny Pot Nursery.

Improves Attention Span

You’d think that being outside might lead to more distractions compared to indoor learning. But a study shared in the American Journal of Public Health has shown that natural settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children and could encourage more independent thinking.

A child with a longer attention span will pay more attention in class, and even grow into a well-rounded individual. Someone who spends more time listening will learn to communicate better in time, as their responses will be a lot more relevant based on what was initially said.

Improves Vision

Not only do children’s attention spans get better but their vision does too according to Optometry and Vision Science. Their report found that children who spend more time outdoors are less likely to become myopic. In other words, spending more time outdoors is incredibly beneficial for your child’s eyes!

Children playing in a sandbox outside

What is a Forest Nursery?

A forest nursery is a nursery that takes a holistic approach where children spend their time outside rather than indoors. Like its name suggests, it’s a type of early childhood education that takes place near or around woodland areas.

Like outdoor learning, the term ‘forest nursery’ has multiple variations for you to be aware of:

  • Forest kindergarten
  • Outdoor nursery
  • Nature kindergarten
  • Nature preschool

Forest Nursery Fact: The Laona Forest School in Wisconsin was the first “school forest” that was also used as a forest school starting in the 1920s.

The curriculum offered by forest nurseries is fluid and it focuses on learner-led outdoor play that encourages curiosity and exploration, which is very similar to outdoor learning offered by nurseries that wouldn’t fit into the forest nursery category.

For example, The Hunny Pot Nursery isn’t a forest nursery, but all of the benefits of learning outdoors are just as prevalent. We know this for a fact based on our own experiences and the feedback we receive from parents and guardians.

“The Hunny Pot day nursery has helped to make my little boy the bright, happy little man that he is now. Everyone works so hard, and the building and gardens are great. Plenty of activities and projects to keep them entertained, and help them learn through having fun. Would recommend this nursery to anyone. My son was very happy here.”
– One Very Happy Parent

Indoor vs Outdoor Learning: Which is Better?

Now that we’ve outlined what indoor and outdoor learning is and the benefits of both, you’re probably wondering which is better suited for your child?

The answer to this question is a simple one: neither is better when it comes to providing your children with the best experience possible. Besides, other than taking place in two different environments, you’ll find that there are more similarities than differences between indoor and outdoor learning.

For example, both involve engaging in physical activities, allowing children to develop key motor skills through things like gross play, which can be performed practically anywhere! Storytime (circle time) is another example we can give in that children can sit and listen to stories in both environments!

Forest Nursery Discoveries: Indoor Vs Outdoor Learning

To recap, we have briefly looked at indoor and outdoor learning, covering the range of benefits that each offers when it comes to helping children during their education. We’ve also looked at what a forest nursery is and the similarities they share with outdoor learning environments.

Now that you understand the importance of both, all you need to do now is find a nursery that is best for your child. Luckily, you don’t need to look far.

The Hunny Pot Nursery is a place where children can thrive and grow. We have four bright, attractive floors which are age-regulated for every child in our care. Our outdoor areas are just as appealing, making it fun for children to play, learn, and explore!

To find out more about our range of learning environments, book a free tour of The Hunny Pot Nursery today!