The power of outdoor learning: beyond the classroom

Find out how we support young people to have fun, explore, and have experiences that help shape their futures.

28th May 2024

Here at Lineham Farm, we witness first-hand the transformational power of outdoor learning and play. From school groups to children with complex special educational needs and difficult home lives, we see what time in nature does for each and every child.

For a young person, learning is not something that stops at the classroom door. The world around them presents countless opportunities to grow, change, push boundaries, and learn about themselves. Every day is an opportunity to discover something new.

The problem is that not every child has the same access to safe outdoor spaces. For some young people, the worlds in which they are learning to become adults are very small, and they experience daily challenges that many of us have never dealt with.

At Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm we see it as our duty to bridge this gap. In our work at the farm, we attempt to broaden the horizons of all children in Leeds. We support them to have fun, explore, and have new experiences that help shape their futures.


Making precious time for outdoor adventures

While at Lineham, children take part in a whole host of outdoor activities they may not have tried before. Climbing, archery, biking, orienteering, bushcraft, and nature walks. These activities are primarily to have fun and allow the children to make happy memories.

The added value is all the fantastic developmental benefits outdoor learning has on a young person. Many children now grow up without access to safe parks and residential streets to play and explore, and this means they are missing out.

Compared to 50 years ago, children are spending less and less time outdoors. In fact, by the time a child reaches the age of 7, they will have spent the equivalent of 456 days looking at a screen – an average of four hours a day.”

Source: Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

At Lineham Farm, our activity workers spend each day supervising groups of young people as they take part in outdoor activities. They report seeing children overcome fears, make first time memories, build confidence, and make new friends.

Here are just some of the benefits of outdoor learning:


Broaden horizons

Many of the children who are referred to Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm for a respite break have never seen the countryside before. They have never ridden a bike, walked in the woods, or seen a sheep.

Giving children these important first tastes of the world helps them to broaden their horizons beyond what they know. By showing them there is a world of fun, adventure, and new experiences, we support them to see all the possible futures awaiting them.

Discover new passions

The process of trying new things and discovering what you enjoy, and what you’re good at, is part of building confidence and self-worth. When groups of young people stay at Lineham we give them a taste of lots of different pursuits. For some, they enjoy the experience as a one-off, but others will discover lifelong passions that help sustain them as adults.


Encourage self-expression

Not every child is suited to the classroom, and a great many children struggle with sitting quietly for long periods. The beauty of outdoor learning is it allows more room for self-expression, with children feeling more relaxed and uninhibited.

“Children communicate differently with freer, louder ‘outside’ voices and are enthusiastic to share and talk about their discoveries.”

National Literacy Trust

This is particularly important for children with special educational needs, who may miss out on some learning opportunities in a classroom setting. Every child should have the chance to express themselves, be listened to, and feel validated.

Build resilience

Our work at Lineham Farm is dedicated to supporting children from backgrounds of challenge and disadvantage. This includes cared for children, young carers, and children with incredibly difficult home lives.

For these children especially, a break at Lineham Farm enables them to relax and have fun away from the daily challenges they face. Time spent in a safe, supportive environment helps them build the resilience and confidence needed to develop as a young person.

Outdoor learning boosts confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, physical skills, knowledge and understanding. Research found an increase in children’s self-esteem, self-confidence, ability to work cooperatively and positive attitude to learning.”

Source: National Literacy Trust

Leeds Children's Charity at Lineham Farm Bushcraft Skills Bonfire

Learn differently

The learning we do at Lineham Farm is tied to the school curriculum. But most of the activities are things a child would never get the chance to do at school. We teach young people about nature by taking them wildlife spotting and on stream walks. They develop problem solving and teamwork skills while learning bushcraft. For the children and teachers who visit, these outdoor lessons are a welcome break from textbooks and whiteboards.

Develop soft skills

While school is an essential part of a child’s education, the soft skills they develop through play and exploration shouldn’t be underestimated. Communication, teamwork, resilience, adaptability, leadership, and creativity are all examples of the skills children take away from a week at Lineham Farm. Childhood experiences are not just about positive memories, but they are the fundamental building blocks of happy, well-rounded adults.

Lineham explorers children on stream walk

The mental health benefits of getting outdoors

The young people we support often have limited access to natural, open spaces. Being in the outdoors is, for most people, the ultimate de-stressor. It gives us peace, mental clarity and a sense of being part of something greater.

Time outdoors can improve memory, attention span, impulse control, and promote creativity. Exploring the woodlands, walking in our streams or just sitting quietly listening to the sounds of nature, helps young people to re-charge and decompress.

Can you support the work we do at Lineham Farm?

Your support can make a lasting impact on the lives of the children that we help here at Lineham Farm. By donating to Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm, you can help ensure that more children get the chance to experience the benefits of outdoor learning.

If you’re looking for ways to support Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm, either as an individual or a business, you can find out more here. Fundraising and monthly giving helps us reach the children in Leeds who most need our support.