Blog post written by YPO.
Compared to 50 years ago, children are spending less and less time outdoors, even more so after the events of the past six months and the developments in technology over the years – in fact, by the time a child reaches the age of 7, they will have spent the equivalent of 456 days looking at a screen – an average of four hours a day. Compared to this only 182 days will have been spent in the outdoors, which equates to around an hour and half a day.
While learning outside the classroom lacks exposure in the UK’s current school curriculum, it has countless benefits for both pupils and teachers that classroom lessons just cannot match;
- Improves children and teacher mental health and wellbeing
- Provides health benefits and increases physical activity
- Naturally encourages creativity, problem solving and teamwork
- Helps teachers with professional development
- Provides more accessibility and activities, especially for children with SEN
- Helps children learning about and connect with the environment they live
The return to school provides a great opportunity for venturing into the great outdoors to deliver a unique and engaging experience for pupils by exploring subjects like art, maths, and science outside of classroom walls. That said, many teachers are still reluctant to give outdoor learning a try, usually due to safety concerns and lack of equipment, space, and funding.
What many don’t realise is that the outdoors can provide natural resources and if well prepared for, planned and safely managed, outdoor lessons can be a rewarding learning experiences for children, who don’t always realise they are learning when outside.
It’s also important to remember that learning outside the classroom doesn’t end at the school gates either, it can be a visit to the local field or park – somewhere that enables challenge and thinking. Here’s some points to consider before taking learning outside:
- Invest in storage to save space and protect equipment
- Communicate with parents and ask them to provide clothing for all weather conditions
- Conduct a risk assessment of outdoor areas and train staff accordingly
- Provide washing facilities and/or protective clothing to prevent mess
At YPO, we’re very passionate about children’s learning so we’re constantly looking out for inspiration and ideas to create a fun and engaging environment that enables learning. That’s why we’re really excited to partner with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and we’re looking forward to sharing hints and tips with you.
Want to maximise your outdoor spaces? Take a look at our range of outdoor furniture, storage and resources, which includes products from the Cosy Collection at YPO.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got some great activity ideas for outdoor maths and outdoor literacy, as well as some helpful advice on creating an outdoor learning environment.
Don’t forget to celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day on 5 November 2020.
This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.