When outdoor learning is integrated into lessons, both students and teachers see improvements in focus and behaviour, as well as there being many advantages to mental health and wellbeing.
But how can outdoor learning be included and implemented in the curriculum and culture of your school?
Here are some easy and simple cost-effect solutions that you can implement.
Be Prepared for the Weather
Outdoor learning doesn’t just have to happen on those perfect sunny days. In the UK, we don’t see a lot of sunny days during the winter months, but it’s good to plan for children to learn outdoors regardless of the weather.
Outdoor equipment can take up a lot of space, so it’s worth considering how to store it. Could you build welly racks outside the classroom doors or store waterproofs in stackable storage containers? To prevent children from bringing in mud, creating piles of wet clothes, and disrupting the learning process, a routine and process for when the kids come inside wet or cold will be good to think of.
Consider it a Need, Rather Than a Nice to Have
Your outdoor area is a cost-free resource that you can utilise to improve learning all across the curriculum. Increasing research supports the advantages of learning, social skills, and health. Be as thorough in your planning and evaluation for outdoor learning as much as you do for indoor learning.
Promote Outdoor Learning as Homework and Home Learning
Outdoor learning doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a school setting. Parents can be encouraged to apply it with homework and home learning. Children will love working in their gardens, neighbourhood parks, or natural woodland areas.
You can build an incentive for the kids by creating a reward scheme with a certificate or sticker to deliver each week in assembly to encourage outdoor learning.
Making Outdoor Learning Effective in your School
Parents and kids are beginning to realise the advantages of being outdoors. There is much more to it than just recreation. The same learning can take place during outdoor sessions while also taking advantage of nature’s positive effects on both physical and mental health.
However, you can’t just add outdoor learning to your current classes for it to be successful. Instead of increasing your workload, use nature to deliver your existing curriculum. The only way to ensure that outdoor learning is a true success is by making it an integral part of the school day. By incorporating outdoor learning heavily into the curriculum, we can instil in our children a strong sense of resilience, drive, and commitment.
Establish a Shelter
When there is shelter available it’s easier to stay outside for a longer period of time without the stress or worry about the weather. Perhaps you can consider installing a canopy. School shelters are cost-effective, space-saving solutions that make the most of your available space while shielding your pupils and staff from extreme weather.
Whether you’re interested in “outdoor learning,” “learning in natural settings,” “learning outside the classroom,” “Forest School,” or “school gardening,” there is a wealth of knowledge, guidance, and instruction available to help you develop your confidence and make great things happen outdoors.
Learning occurs everywhere, inside and outside. The more we can impart outdoor learning as the “norm”, the less overwhelming and daunting it will become to introduce it into teaching curriculums. In fact, Ofsted encourages schools to expressly include learning outside the classroom in their self-evaluations and other evidence provided during the inspection visit, as they see it as a crucial component of a broad and balanced curriculum.