10 reasons to take learning outside the classroom
There are 5 key ways in which exposure to the natural environment is beneficial to human health*:
- enhanced personal and social communication skills
- increased physical health
- enhanced mental and spiritual health
- enhanced spiritual, sensory, and aesthetic awareness
- the ability to assert personal control and increased sensitivity to one’s own well-being.
*Health, Well-Being and Open Space, Literature Review by Nina Morris, OPENspace Research Centre, (2003).
But how does that translate to the classroom?
Learning outside the classroom builds children’s confidence and can transform their relationships with teachers. And, when learning flows seamlessly between indoors and outdoors, it makes the most efficient use of resources and builds on interests and enthusiasms. Here are our 10 examples to get you started…
1. Bring learning to life
It can be difficult to keep pupils engaged and on task in the classroom especially when all they want is to be active. So, why not take science, synonyms for english, and maths outside and let them do just that? Let them explore, find shapes and patterns in the plant life, or your geodesic dome outdoor classroom, then record, draw or even calculate their angles.
2. Make learning relevant
In the diagram below, you’ll find dozens of opportunities to make learning concepts, tangible and relevant by putting them into a more realistic context. As a result, pupils will be able to consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding they’ve acquired.
3. Nurture creativity and imagination
Outdoor learning also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness. For example, giving children contact with the natural world offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons.
4. Develop learning through experimentation
Experimenting is also a fantastic way to learn – very young children learn a huge amount about volume and textures by using simple things like sand and water play, whilst older children will enjoy becoming nature detectives and learning about mini-beasts and their habitats.
5. Enjoy greater resources
One of the key benefits of learning outside the classroom is that you have the most amazingly well resourced stock cupboard you could hope for – and a lot of it is free.
6. Improve attendance
If you’re able to build outside play – and visits, into your curriculum and engage and motivate your pupils to learn, you’ll inevitably find that they’re more motivated to turn up to school.
7. Develop interest in the environment
Teaching outside also helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, lifecycles and the wider community.
8. Expose children to new opportunities
Learning outside the classroom doesn’t just have to mean wandering around the school grounds, though this is a great place to start. Why not create an allotment or geodesic dome greenhouse? Pupils will not only benefit from green fingers but also an understanding of food science, nutrition and food provenance. Further to that, by selling produce such as fruit, vegetables or even eggs to the local community or businesses you could soon find some budding young entrepreneurs.
9. Keep healthy
Well directed outdoor learning opportunities can supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being.
10. Reduce behaviour problems
Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment. Whilst learning beyond the classroom can mean a new behaviour management processes, on the whole it can often mean a general improvement in behaviour – yet another consequence of children being happy, engaged and motivated.
So what are you waiting for – it’s time to get outside!
Please take a moment to share your ideas for learning outside the classroom or ask us about making an outdoor classroom part of your schools outdoor learning activities.