The benefits of learning outdoors for young people

Learning outdoors improves health and wellbeing

Spending time outside is an important part of childhood development. The natural environment offers a number of opportunities that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. Learning outdoors has the potential to improve children’s mental and social wellbeing. In turn, this can better young people’s personal relationships and their academic achievements in school.

The potential benefits of learning outdoors are varied and arise from spending time in nature. Research has shown that the natural environment can lead to development across a number of key areas, including:

  • Enhanced personal and social communication skills
  • Increased physical health
  • Enhanced mental health
  • Enhanced sensory and aesthetic awareness
  • Increased awareness of wellbeing

Source: Health, Well-Being and Open Space, Literature Review by Nina Morris, OPENspace Research Centre

A young person’s health and wellbeing is influenced by everything around them, including their individual circumstances and the support they get from their family and peers. Wellbeing includes good physical health while also feeling content and happy. A positive sense of wellbeing provides a young person with confidence and optimism which then maximises their learning potential.

The benefits of residential school trips

Residential school trips are a fantastic way to encourage outdoor learning. Young people can spend time with their peers outside of the classroom, whilst taking on a range of exciting challenges. Through a mix of planned activity sessions and free play, children will learn a new skill set. They will also leave with a new found appreciation of the natural environment.

Cumulus Outdoors are expert providers of school trips in Dorset. Visits to our residential centre and tented villages provide young people with the opportunity to engage in fun-filled adventure activities along the Jurassic Coast. These activities are structured and take place within a safe and supportive environment. This enables children to work in small groups and then reflect and build upon the experiences they’ve shared.

  • Develop self esteem, take personal responsibility and respect the needs of others
  • Extend their personal horizons through greater appreciation and understanding of the world around them
  • Understand the need for sustainable relationships between people and their environment
  • Enhance practical problem solving and teamwork skills
  • Promote a knowledgeable response towards personal health and wellbeing


Additional benefits arise where young people gain more value than was expected. These benefits are more likely to occur when there is a highly supportive climate for learning. Wider benefits of outdoor learning are the benefits to families, schools, society and future generations. The greater the overall involvement in Residential trips and visits, the greater the opportunities for achieving these wider benefits.

EOC – High Quality Outdoor Learning document

The EOC High Quality Outdoor Learning Document highlights key outcomes of outdoor learning and the role it can play in supporting the development of young people:

  • A reduced risk of myopia, or nearsightedness
  • Greater exposure to bright light, which enhances health and mental performance
  • Increased activity levels, and greater freedom to run, jump, and climb
  • Opportunities for hands-on learning about physical forces and concepts
  • Reduced stress levels, better moods, and improved concentration
  • More naturally-attuned sleep rhythms
  • Enhanced opportunities to learn social skills, overcome fears, and develop a lifelong connection with nature

See more from The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.


Find out how Cumulus can help to further support the health and wellbeing of your school or class, please get in touch.