Thanks to its pristine countryside location between Jeffreys Bay and Port Elizabeth, Woodridge College & Preparatory School is not only in pursuit of academic excellence but setting the trend in Outdoor Education.
The Outdoor Education programme is more than just extra-mural activities for pupils; the school has geared it towards teaching them from a young age how to overcome personal challenges and fears while being encouraged by their peers, teachers and parents.
What is Outdoor Education at Woodridge College & Preparatory School?
“One of the key outcomes from our programme is developing children’s self-awareness and social skills, with the children demonstrating initiative, innovation, enthusiasm, curiosity, self-reliance, responsibility, perseverance, tenacity and commitment,” explains Billy Teeton, Director of Outdoor Education at Woodridge.
“We want children to be acquiring and developing a range of skills in outdoor activities, fieldwork, exploration, journeys and expeditions and one doesn’t have to be athletic to do this.”
Teeton believes in creating opportunities to extend pupils’ awareness of environmental and conservation issues.
“We want the children to enjoy participating and adopting a positive attitude to challenge and adventure,” he describes.
“Another key outcome is enjoyment and we want to see smiles, often! We want to see boys and girls having a second go at things they first found difficult.”
Teeton further says that the outdoors is an ideal place for children to display confidence socially – to ‘come out of your shell’ and to have an ‘I can-do’ attitude’.
“We want to see them developing resilience through perseverance where before they felt they could not succeed!”
Outdoor Education activities at Woodridge College & Preparatory School
According to Teeton, conservation activities are a fantastic way for kids to show leadership and develop a passion for nature. When Woodridge children go outdoors, we want them to care for the environment through their own actions (e.g. only taking photos and leaving only footprints),” he adds.
Each phase in the school has a slightly different approach when it comes to Outdoor Education. In the Pre-Primary, each class has a dedicated “outdoor” day where the children explore our beautiful campus on foot and engage in arts and crafts using material they collected on their walk. At the Foundation Phase level, children engage in mountain biking, archery, trail running and outdoor art, while they also learn how to canoe. In the Intermediate and Senior phases, the outdoor activities become more varied and intense with running, cycling and canoeing excursions in preparation for the College years when it gets even more challenging.
“Not everyone is confident to take on challenges that require physical skills, yet we want them to try hard to succeed at activities they find physically or emotionally challenging. Not everything in the outdoors needs to be a competition! The outdoor classroom is where they’ll develop mental skills (e.g. determination, co-operation, resilience) through activities that could never be achieved within the four-walled classroom.”
Among the activities that form part of the school’s Outdoor Education programme are abseiling, initiative tests, mountain biking, canoeing, camp cooking, archery, and learning how to construct a proper shelter. The school’s on-site Challenge Course offers pupils the opportunity to negotiate obstacles, climbing and crawling over and under and working their way through the ropes course, while suspended in the air.
“At all times, we want children to arrive on time, properly equipped with safety gear and prepared for action,” explains Teeton.
“Outdoor learning has a hugely positive impact on all of us, and although the children may not see it now, it will be life-changing.
“Right now, it’s about grabbing those opportunities that will extend their life skills. It is about growing their confidence. It is about nurturing their resilience and sense of responsibility.”
Thinking about enrolling your child at Woodridge College & Preparatory School? Call 041 492 0005 (College) or 041 492 0006 (Prep School) or email firstname.lastname@example.org today. Alternatively, visit them online at www.woodridge.co.za or find them HERE.
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