By: Melissa Stevens
There are plenty of benefits of living in Hong Kong, but a persistent concern for many parents is that kids growing up in such an urban environment miss out on getting to spend time enough time in nature.
The team at Stamford American School Hong Kong is aware of this – and the fact that experiencing nature up-close and first-hand provides children with a valuable understanding of the environment. That’s why they’re dedicated to ensuring their students get these opportunities as part of the preparation for the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.
In addition to core subjects, the curriculum gives students a chance to develop in a multitude of areas including the arts, languages, sports, and STEMinn. Another key aspect of the IB learner profile is developing skills in risk-taking, inquiring and communication.
Stamford’s Lower School Principal Rose Chambers was eager to find opportunities to get children out into nature and benefit from the exposure to new environments from an early age. A collaboration with The Backyard Gang, which provides outdoor experiences for kids in Hong Kong, provided the perfect solution. “There’s a whole world waiting for our children that goes beyond our classroom walls,” says Rose.
The programme, which launched this academic year in the lower school section of Stamford, saw students of different ages explore and carry out a variety of challenges.
Students from pre-primary to Grade 2 made weekly visits to Tai Po Waterfront Park to spend time outdoors and participate in a range of activities.
The Backyard Gang director Chris Funnell explains: “The sessions are planned to ensure children can connect with nature, ask new questions as well as celebrate finding answers together while exploring new places.”
Teachers and students have been incredibly impressed with how positive the experiences have been, which fits in well with the school’s vision of being an inspiring world of education.
Rose says the experiences gained through the outdoor education programme are incredibly important as they help students prepare for camp experiences when they reach the upper grades of elementary school. It also gives them life skills that can’t be planned for in a classroom setting.
“Young learners are naturally curious, so, as they grow and develop, it’s important for us as educators to build upon that, ensuring we’re helping to develop life-long learners,” she says. “The outdoor education programme at Stamford is an excellent opportunity to develop these characteristics to allow young learners to expand their horizons in the beauty of Hong Kong’s outdoors.”
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