Adventure Learning is an approach used to design online and hybrid education that provides students with opportunities to investigate and experience authentic topics within collaborative learning environments. – Veletsianos, G. (2012)
Adventure learning is a form of education that takes place outdoors in the form of an adventure. It is usualy set in a location that facilitates investigation of the topic of interest and is:
- Open-ended – exploratory
- Authentic – real world
The concept of adventure learning is not a new one. In fact, it has been around for along time. We have all experienced a form of it growing up. For instance:
- When we went to school camps.
- Going camping with friends and hiking through the jungle.
- Trying out challenging physical activities, like rock climbing, rope courses, and skiing.
Adventure learning, or experiential learning as it is sometimes referred to, is really an old idea with a new name. If it is nothing new, why do we talk about it?
- Because adventure learning is one of the most powerful forms of learning that a child can experience.
- Secondly, as a generation of parents, we are the most protective of our children than any generation before us. The natural experiences of “adventure learning” that we used to receive growing up are dwindling in the lives of our children.
The Benefits of Adventure Learning
Why is it so important for our children to experience adventure learning? Because it benefits our children in many ways. Here are some of those benefits:
- Prepares our children for the real world. The education of our children is not just about gaining knowledge, but to equip them with the skills and knowledge to face real life, including but not limited to:
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Risk Taking and Mistakes. Yes, I realise that risk taking and making mistakes are also part of preparing children for the real world. I felt it needed it’s own dot point because this is an area of development that many children are in grave danger of missing out on. In this era of bubble-wrap parenting, children aren’t encouraged to take risks and be allowed to make their own mistakes. Yet, these qualities are essential to their personal growth and development. Read more about them here:
- Non-cognitive skills development. In addition to the skills above, these experiences also involve social emotional learning. Children develop trust, empathy, and compassion as they work together not only to master their own fears but help each other get through them.
- The Nature Connection. We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of nature and the problem of “nature deficit disorder”. By virtue of the fact that most adventure learning experiences involve being outdoors, they also offer the benefits of nature immersion.
- Accelerates Learning. We are all familiar with that old adage: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. Studies on the brain confirm that active learning is how the brain learns best. Experiential learning is about as active as it gets because it engages and involves the students in the learning process. It gives children a chance to put theory into practice and implement ideas in a physical setting.
Adventure Learning with the Family
You don’t have to create elaborate experiential experiences for your children for them to gain the benefits of adventure learning. Even the little expeditions you take them out on will be great learning experiences they won’t forget. For example, these adventures we’ve been on have been quite an enriching experience for the boys:
- Glamping at Sailor’s Rest
- A Forest Adventure in Bedok
- SkyTrex in Shah Alam
- Hunting for Dinosaur DNA
- FRIM Canopy Walk
Even going on a holiday with the family to visit new countries and experience new cultures can be an adventure in learning:
- Western Australia
- Victorian Holidays
- The Sunshine Coast
- Holiday Adventures – Hawaii
- Holiday Adventures – Chiang Mai
If you can’t go in person, you can take virtual adventures with these online resources: