Ħondoq Bay in Gozo recently turned into one huge classroom for a day, as all the students attending the Gozo College Qala Primary spent a day learning in its environs.
The school’s educators started preparing for the event months in advance, planning different fun and engaging activities in line with the pupils’ curriculum.
“The main aim of the event was to lead children to become more aware of outdoor spaces in the community, make use of the area, while taking care of the premises not only for the sake of the flora and fauna but also for the benefit of other visitors,” assistant head Christabel Attard said.
On the day, children were provided with transport courtesy of EcoGozo within the Ministry for Gozo, while the older students walked to the bay. Parents and relatives were also invited to attend the event.
“There were huge bouts of enthusiasm as the students whispered excitedly on their way to Ħondoq,” Ms Attard remarked.
Different stations were set up around the bay and each class took part in about 30 activities which ranged from creating rhythmic melodies, painting, storytelling, science experiments and trekking along the coast to identifying wild plants and exploring the beach through the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) programme.
The latter is an international science and education programme that gives students, teachers, scientists and citizens the opportunity to work together to better understand, sustain and improve the earth’s environment at local, regional and global scales.
It is these experiences that pupils will remember most when they grow older
The school’s headmaster, Michael Refalo, and all the staff believe such activities are indispensable for the holistic development of pupils.
“Being outdoors, one can be more flexible, not only by making use of the natural re-sources but also by providing a multi-sensory experience to ensure that all children are learning, no matter their learning style. This can also be achieved at school but it is more limited,” Ms Attard noted.
She added that since today’s children spend quite a good chunk of their timeplaying games and using apps in isolation, such activities make them appreciate the outdoors more, while helping them to socialise and internalise skills such as turn-taking.
Along with open days at schools, Ms Attard said that such events also give parents the opportunity to follow more closely the teaching methods used in class and take note of their children’s progress in the process.
Gozo College Qala Primary encourages other schools to follow suit and use the outdoors for learning experiences.
“We can promise that such activities are a real asset in helping educators provide a quality education for all and lifelong learning education. It is these experiences that pupils will remember most when they grow older,” Ms Attard said.
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