Where The Class is Greener: Outdoor Learning Takes Root at YCIS Beijing

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In modern childhood, carefree outdoor playtime is being replaced more and more by academics, extra-curricular activities and electronic entertainment. While many parents feel the need to structure every minute of the day, Mrs Maryanne Harper, Early Childhood Education (ECE) Coordinator at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, assures us that spending some quality time in the great outdoors goes a long way in preparing young children for all-around success.

As the trees are turning green and the parks are coming back to life, our ECE students and teachers are welcoming spring by integrating outdoor activities into the curriculum.


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“Our opportunities to roam free and connect with nature are not what they used to be,” Mrs Harper recalls. “However, the outdoor environment, when utilised wisely, not only helps boost physical and mental health, but also offers an abundance of learning and developmental potential for children.”

At YCIS Beijing we make use of the public park that lies only a few feet away from the ECE Learning Community. “In addition to the school’s own playgrounds, Honglingjin Park becomes an outdoor extension of the classroom and offers educational opportunities with numerous benefits,” she explains. When the children rush outside to observe the activities of insects or contemplate the change of seasons, they become active participants in their own education. A growing body of research also confirms that self-directed outdoor play in a natural environment provides rich fodder for young imaginations – growing vocabularies, building social skills and expanding attention spans.


“Another aspect of outdoor learning in Honglingjin Park is that students gain a wonderful perspective on Chinese culture,” Mrs. Harper adds. Observing park-goers practicing tai-chi, playing traditional musical instruments, and entertaining themselves with unique Chinese games provides a window into Chinese culture and helps children engage with the story of the place that they live in. “It aligns nicely with the school’s aim to deliver a program that blends the best of East and West.”

Scan the QR Code to read the full article published this week on the Beijing Kids website.

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