Conceptualising Outdoor Learning to Facilitate Children’s Well-being and Academic Achievement


  • Nabilah Abd Talib Universiti Selangor
  • Rita Wong Mee Mee
  • Khairul Firdaus Ne’Matullah


outdoor play, early childhood education, children well-being, academic achievement


Due to current technological advancement, children spend an increasing amount of time each day engaged in sedentary indoor activities to seek entertainment instead of spending time outdoors. The decline in outside access for many children has caused social and physical health issues that have become more prevalent in recent years that might affect them in the long term. This research aims to identify the impact of outdoor learning on children’s mental and emotional well-being and academic achievement. The integration of experiential learning theory in developing a conceptual model that could be used in searching for solutions to help increase children’s involvement in outdoor activity.


Abd Rahim, S. N. F., Badzis, M., & Nik Abdul Rahman, N. S. (2020). How Do Children Experience Nature at Preschool? A Preliminary Study. Proceedings of the 4th UUM International Qualitative Research Conference (QRC) 2020, 135-147.

Becker, C., Lauterbach, G., Spengler, S., Dettweiler, U., & Mess, F. (2017). Effects of regular classes in outdoor education settings: A systematic review on students’ learning, social and Health Dimensions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(5), 1–20.

Bento, G., & Dias, G. (2017). The importance of outdoor play for young children's Healthy Development. Porto Biomedical Journal, 2(5), 157–160.

Best, M. M., Dickinson, C. L., Hugstad-Vaa Leer, C. J., & Kalina, M. K. (2017). The Impact of Implementing Core Curriculum in an Outdoor Classroom on Primary-Aged Students’ Academic Achievement. [Master's thesis, St. Catherine University] St. Catherine University Repository.

Bjorge, S., Hannah, T., Rekstad, P., & Pauly, T. (2017). The Behavioral Effects of Learning Outdoors. [Master's thesis, St. Catherine University] St. Catherine University Repository.

Bouhazzama, M., & Mssassi, S. (2021). The impact of experiential learning on environmental education during a Moroccan summer university. E3S Web of Conferences, 234, 00031.

Burke, A., Moore, S., Molyneux, L., Lawlor, A., Kattwitz, T., Yurich, G., Sanson, R., Andersen, O., & Card, B. (2021). Children’s wellness: outdoor learning during Covid-19 in Canada. Education in the North, 28(2), 24–45.

Cameron, M., & McGue, S. (2019). Behavioral Effects of Outdoor Learning on Primary Students. [Master's thesis, St. Catherine University] St. Catherine University Repository.

Dankiw, K. A., Tsiros, M. D., Baldock, K. L., & Kumar, S. (2020). The impacts of unstructured nature play on health in early childhood development: A systematic review. PLOS ONE, 15(2).

Fathirezaie, Z., Abbaspour, K., Badicu, G., Zamani Sani, S. H., & Nobari, H. (2021). The Effect of Environmental Contexts on Motor Proficiency and Social Maturity of Children: An Ecological Perspective. Children, 8(2), 157.

Gil-Madrona, P., Martínez-López, M., Prietoâ€Ayuso, A., Saraiva, L., Vecina-Cifuentes, J., Vicente-Ballesteros, T., Moratilla-López, R., & López-Sánchez, G. F. (2019). Contribution of Public Playgrounds to Motor, Social, and Creative Development and Obesity Reduction in Children. Sustainability, 11(14), 3787.

Higgins, P., & Loynes, C. (1997). On The Nature of Outdoor Education. In P. Hihhins, C. Loynes, & N. Crowther (Eds.), A Guide for outdoor educators in Scotland (6-8). Adventure Education.

Hinkley, T., Brown, H., Carson, V., & Teychenne, M. (2018). Cross sectional associations of screen time and outdoor play with social skills in preschool children. PLOS ONE, 13(4), e0193700.

Karaca, N. H. (2020). Development process of “Scale for the Attitudes towards Risky Play at Early Childhood (SATRPEC) - parent form.†International Journal of Contemporary Educational Research, 7(1), 165–176.

Khan, M., McGeown, S., & Bell, S. (2020). Can an Outdoor Learning Environment Improve Children’s Academic Attainment? A Quasi-Experimental Mixed Methods Study in Bangladesh. Environment and Behavior, 52(10), 1079–1104.

Kimmes, L., The Benefits of Experiential Learning In An Outdoor Expedition Setting (2017). [Master's thesis, Hamline University] Hamline University Repository.

Kuo, M., Browning, M. H., & Penner, M. L. (2018). Do lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement? refueling students in flight. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1–15.

Malaysian Mental Health Association. (2019). Mental Health Handbook. Retrieved from

Marchant, E., Todd, C., Cooksey, R., Dredge, S., Jones, H., Reynolds, D., Stratton, G., Dwyer, R., Lyons, R., & Brophy, S. (2019). Curriculum-based outdoor learning for children aged 9-11: A qualitative analysis of pupils’ and teachers’ views. PLOS ONE, 14(5), 1–24.

McCree, M., Cutting, R., & Sherwin, D. (2018). The hare and the tortoise go to forest school: taking the scenic route to academic attainment via emotional wellbeing outdoors. Early Child Development and Care, 188(7), 980-996.

Ministry of Education Malaysia (2013). Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025. Putrajaya: Ministry of Education Malaysia, Government of Malaysia.

Mohamed, M., Alpandi, S. N., Kamal, A. A., Mohamed, A. M. D., Azwan, Z., Rahman, Z. A., Fariduddin, M. N., & Zulkifli, A. F. (2021). Outdoor Education in Promoting Nature Appreciation: A Survey through Activity Enjoyment among Physical Education Students in a Public University. ACPES Journal of Physical Education, Sport, and Health (AJPESH), 1(1), 87–95.

Mohd Hisham, M. H., Saud, M. S., & Kamin, Y. (2017). Meta-Analysis Study of Teacher Issues on Higher Order Thinking Skills in Malaysia. World Applied Sciences Journal, 35(12), 2520–2523.

Moore, K. A., Murphey, D., Beltz, M., Martin, M. C., Bartlett, J., & Caal, S. (2016). Child well-being: Constructs to measure child well-being and risk and protective factors that affect the development of young children. Child Trends.

Mustapa, N. D., Maliki, N. Z., & Hamzah, A. (2018). Benefits of Nature on Children’s Developmental Needs: A Review. Asian Journal of Behavioural Studies, 3(12), 31.

Raj, D., Mohd Zulkefli, N., Mohd Shariff, Z., & Ahmad, N. (2022). Determinants of Excessive Screen Time among Children under Five Years Old in Selangor, Malaysia: A Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(6), 3560.

Omidire, M. F., Ayob, S., Mampane, R. M., & Sefotho, M. M. (2018). Using structured movement educational activities to teach mathematics and language concepts to preschoolers. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 8(1), 1-10.

Okur-BerberoÄŸlu, E. (2020). Some effects of unstructured outdoor plays on a child: A case study from New Zealand. International Electronic Journal of Environmental Education.

Rodrigues, B. L. C. (2021). What about the Impact of Outdoor Quality? The Unique Associations between Outdoor Quality and Preschool Children’s Cognitive and Social Skills [Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina]. Univeristy of North Carolina Repository.

Rymanowicz, K., Hetherington, C., & Larm, B. (2020). Planting the Seeds for Nature-Based Learning: Impacts of a Farm-and Nature-Based Early Childhood Education Program. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 8(1), 44-63.

Saleh, S. F., Abdul Latip, N. S., & Abdul Rahim, A. (2018). Assessment of Learning with Nature in Preschool. Planning Malaysia Journal, 16(7).

Sando, O. J. (2019). The outdoor environment and children’s health: a multilevel approach. International Journal of Play, 8(1), 39-52.

Soliman, E. S., Mahdy, R. S., Fouad, H. A., Abbas, R. A., & Fayed, A. (2020). Multiple risk factors affecting childhood psychosocial dysfunction in primary school Egyptian children. Middle East Current Psychiatry, 27(1), 1–9.

Storli, R., & Hansen Sandseter, E. B. (2019). Children's play, well-being and involvement: How children play indoors and outdoors in Norwegian early childhood education and Care Institutions. International Journal of Play, 8(1), 65–78.

Tee, M. Y., Samuel, M., Nor, N. M., Sathasivam, R. V., & Zulnaidi, H. (2018). Classroom Practice and the Quality of Teaching: Where a Nation is Going? Journal of International and Comparative Education, 7(1), 17-33.

Tuuling, L., Õun, T., & Ugaste, A. (2018). Teachers’ opinions on utilising outdoor learning in the preschools of Estonia. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(4), 358–370.

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being. Preventive Medicine Reports, 12, 271-283.

VujiÄić, L., ÄŒamber TambolaÅ¡, A., & Zlatar, S. (2021). Preschool Teachers' Attitudes Towards The Use of Outdoor Space as Learning Place. Proceedings of INTEND2021 Conference, 8, 9092-9101.

Quibell, T., Charlton, J., & Law, J. (2017). Wilderness schooling: A controlled trial of the impact of an outdoor education programme on attainment outcomes in primary school pupils. British Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 572–587. .

Webb, Linda. (2018). The Effect of Purposeful Movement in the Garden on Attention and Focus in the Primary Montessori Classroom. [Master's thesis, St. Catherine University] St. Catherine University Repository.

World Health Organisation (2019). Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. World Health Organisation.

Woo, A., Pek, L. S., & Nawi, H. S. A. (2021). Digital Educational Divide among Low Socioeconomy Income Group: A Conceptual Model. St. Theresa Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(2), 14–28.

Yıldırım, G., & Akamca, G. Ö. (2017). The effect of outdoor learning activities on the development of preschool children. South African Journal of Education, 37(2), 1-10.

Zaid, N. N. M., Pek, L. S., & Ahmad, N. A. (2021). Conceptualising Digital-Based Instructional Strategies for Elderly Learning. St. Theresa Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 7(2), 29-44.