Students are spending less and less time outdoors. This is due to a rise in tablet and phone usage (starting from formative years already), busier families and a sense of fear for safety. As teachers, it is our responsibility to recognize the value and importance of outdoor education, and make opportunities for students to spend time exploring and learning outdoors.
We need to help ensure that students do not miss out on beautiful, outdoor experiences that will benefit them in their future. Below are a few reasons why outdoor education is critical.
It’s time to get outside your classroom’s four walls! Enjoy the read!
1. Mental health
Kids love the outdoors. They thrive in it. Some think that because so little traditional learning happens outside the classroom, they can tend to get overly excited when it does happen. However, if outdoor education becomes the norm, you will actually find that the more you take your students into nature, the calmer they become.
Outdoor education has been found to calming the mind, decrease depression, encourage creativity and improve focus. A five-year Australian study on outdoor play was done which examined 500 children from 14 primary schools. It was found that students who spend break times in natural playgrounds (as opposed to asphalt or synthetic ones) feel more rested and are more able to concentrate in their classroom.
2. Physical health
Outdoor education gives students fresh air and much needed exercise. Often, PE is intimidating for learners, and too much emphasis is placed on winning. But a fun, outdoor learning game takes away this pressure and allows students to just enjoy themselves while being active.
Students who are active during school are more likely to continue a healthy, active lifestyle later on in life.
3. Academic success
Outdoor education can improve the academic performance of your students. Continuing with the Australian study above, the researchers discovered that the calming and focusing effects from time spent in nature had, in turn, a direct correlation with better exam results and success.
With exams in full swing, now is a brilliant time to get your students outside. This will relax and destress them, ultimately enabling them to perform better during exams. This could be as simple as doing subject revision classes outside.
4. Content comprehension
Outdoor activities are linked to curriculum subjects and complement lessons, rather than detract from them. For example, a maths lesson can be done outside where students estimate how long it will take them to run, skip and hop across the school field. This activity can be discussed outside and then completed inside by drawing graphs of the results.
Outdoor education helps students see the real-life application of the curriculum. Subject matter becomes relevant and contextualised, which aids understanding. Students are more motivated to engage, understand and learn.
5. Active citizens
Outdoor education offers a great opportunity to teach students about the environment and your local community. This can be difficult to convey within your classroom walls. Students grow to become responsible citizens with the help of outdoor education.
Students learn a respect for nature, the environment and the interdependence between people, animals, plants and the ecosystem.