Children need to experience the great outdoors in order to love and protect it
Research shows that playing and learning outdoors as part of the school day gives children a better understanding of the environment
1 October 2019: We hope that more than 1000 schools across South Africa will take their classes outdoors on 7 November as part of the global Outdoor Classroom Day campaign. 200 000 will join millions of other students from around the world who will leave their desks behind and explore the world beyond four walls.
The campaign, led by Symphonia for South Africa in South Africa, will inspire and celebrate outdoor learning and play, which has a profound impact on children’s health, development and happiness. The campaign’s Muddy Hands report shows that outdoor learning and play gets kids more active, boosts mental health and results in better learning outcomes across the board. Importantly, getting outdoors also connects children to the environment they will want to protect – it shows that 86% of teachers worldwide say that playing outdoors gives children a better understanding of the environment.
Louise Van Rhyn, CEO at Symphonia for South Africa, said: “In a world where our children are spending more and more time in front of screens, we believe that schools are perfectly placed to be powerful advocates for more time outdoors. Not only is outdoor learning and play great for children’s health and happiness, it is integral to the future of our planet. Research shows that children will protect the things they know and love, so fostering a connection to the environment as early as possible is critical in addressing the climate crisis.”
Pecanwood College Pre-Preparatory has been taking part in the day since 2016. The Principal, Joan Coetzee, said: “The Outdoor Days are very special and thoroughly enjoyed by the children and staff. Children develop a sense of respect and care for the natural environment. The great outdoors enhances learning, appreciation, wonder, joy and discovery.
Schools can sign up to take part on the website, which also has a library of outdoor lesson ideas that they can access for free: www.outdoorclassroomday.co.za
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On the day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outdoors and prioritise playtime. In 2018, over 3.5 million children worldwide took part.
Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood. The global Outdoor Classroom Day is led by Semble (formerly Project Dirt and a founding member of the campaign), in partnership with Unilever as part of their Dirt is Good movement. The South African campaign is led by NGO, Symphonia for South Africa
It’s easy to get involved and there is something everyone can do!
If you’re a teacher and new to outdoor learning, why not use Outdoor Classroom Day to try it out? If you already get outdoors regularly, use the day to celebrate what you’re doing and inspire other teachers around the world to join in.
If you’re a parent, talk to your child’s school about the importance of outdoor learning and play and encourage them to get involved. Think about how you can spend more time outdoors as a family too and inspire other parents to do the same.
If you work for an organisation that cares about children, nature, education or the environment, speak to us about how you can get involved. We’re always looking for partners to help spread the message far and wide.
So that schools can participate on a day that fits with their term times, the South Africa campaign has two dates each year. The next Outdoor Classroom Days are on Thursday 7 November 2019 and 21 May 2020. Sign up below for one or both and help build a movement that gets children outdoors to play and learn every day!
Read more about Outdoor Classroom Day here
Read more about Semble here