From Excuses to Encouragements: Confronting and Overcoming the Barriers to Early Childhood Outdoor Learning in Canadian Schools

  • Heather Coe
Keywords: Nature-based education, Outdoor education, Environmental education, Early Childhood Education, Canada


Drawing on outdoor education literature, this paper aims to address issues related to outdoor learning, and to confront some of the potential barriers and concerns that educators, administrators, parents, and researchers may have with regards to outdoor learning. While forest and nature-based programs provide an ideal educational setting for children to connect and interact with the natural world, they are not always easily accessible or practical for a majority of young Canadians. There are, however, approaches and ideas that can be drawn from these specialized outdoor early years programs and applied more broadly in contemporary urban and rural Canadian schools. A conceptual shift from a culture of excuses to a model of encouragement is presented, suggesting that educators should view outdoor learning as a pedagogical and problem-solving exercise.

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