Outdoors Thinking

Module 2 The child

The Certificate In Outdoor Practice

Supporting Learning outdoors

Module 2 Supporting Learning outdoors

Building upon learning from the previous module, this step in the qualification pays detailed attention to making sure that the environment being provided is capturing the special nature of the outdoors to best effect and meeting the ways that children are designed to go about exploration and discovery in their early years. We explore in depth the natural learning methods of early childhood and work to transfer these into actual practice through developing your educational role.

Enabling the practitioner to understand and believe in learning through play outdoors. Developing confidence and skills in making good use of the unique and different nature of learning through play in the outdoors.

Jumping in puddle Water play

Building on the previous componant of the course, (module 1) which explored key ways in which you can develop your outdoor environment, the focus of Module 2 is the child and children’s learning. It explores what we know about how young children need to go about exploring and making sense of the world they inhabit – that is, how young children learn best.

One of the very strong reasons why we should take learning outdoors is that it empowers young children to engage with discovery and understanding in the very way that evolution has crafted them to do so: through self-driven, hands on, playful and active interaction with the real world. We will investigate how the outdoors, with its special nature and characteristics, is the perfect fit for learning and development in the early years – and how learning can become so much more effective and satisfying for young children when we work with these features.

Placing Cones

This element of the Certificate is designed to support you in making the most of the ingredients of outdoor provision you have developed, through capturing the differences between indoors and outdoors. By deepening your understanding of how young children need to go about their learning, you will be able to improve the ways in which you allow, encourage and support your children to interact with the provision you offer outside.



Four half-day experiential sessions outdoors will examine each of the central mechanisms of early learning - how young children’s minds, bodies and spirits work in a united way to engage deeply with their world and build the ability to think about it.

Through practically exploring each of these natural learning methods for yourself, you will be able to gain a personal understanding of how this feels and works for the young children you support. Working in small groups with other practitioners will allow you to share thinking and concerns, hear ideas, learn informally from others and build the confidence and skills for extending your own practice.

There is a huge amount for young children to discover about both the physical and the human world, and core to this is needing to find out about themselves and how they fit into this world. Children are full of self-driven curiosity and self-motivated methods for doing this; so rather than ‘teaching’, our role is to empower these learning mechanisms to operate at their best.

Girl hammering hut

Working in small groups to gain a deep feel of how this mode of learning works for young children.

For each learning mechanism, you will be able to investigate a range of ways in which this can be encouraged through provision and practice outdoors.

Training (Adults)

Digging Deeper

Each experiential session is matched with a corresponding half-day unit investigating just how much young children are taking in through everyday explorations and play in a stimulating outdoor environment, and how much they are constructing their own brains and thinking abilities in doing so. These sessions will draw out how the unique nature of the outdoor environment is so well suited to supporting each natural early learning mode, and it will become easy to see that the way young children need to learn = the way that the outdoors can offer learning.

Combining our focus on how young children learn with how the outdoors operates in enabling learning will also prompt thinking about how practitioners can help the outdoors do its best work for children. Drawing upon the guidance of your statutory framework, we will consider how adults’ attunement, behaviour, communication, interaction and responsive preparation ensure that learning through play outdoors is made most effective.

Girl making fire

Putting it into practice

This module is designed to enable you to work with the special nature of the outdoors to create a powerful early learning environment that fits really well with the ways young children are naturally designed to learn. The implementation component of this module is about further developing the ‘ingredients’ of your outdoor provision are engaged with by applying the thinking and learning you have gained - demonstrating how you have done this and reflecting upon what you see happening as a result. As for Module 1, this element of the course should be enjoyable and practically useful, fitting with the way you prefer to think and learn.

So, submissions will be through Outdoors Thinking online platform and can be done in whatever way works most fruitfully for you and your setting.

Bucket play