ost of the learning experiences in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and high school occur indoors in classrooms. Classrooms are traditionally filled with computers, books, whiteboards, and more. The word “classroom” conjures an image of rows of desks and chairs filled with students working with paper and pencil/pen assignments. What if we extended the indoor classroom to the big outdoors?
Research has shown that using the outdoors as a classroom can help boost students’ mental health and physical fitness while improving academic performance and increasing creativity. Nature can also soothe anxiety, promote calmness, and increase students’ attention span. Another bonus is that students’ behavior improves, and they work more cooperatively with their peers. Let’s not forget the added benefit of Vitamin D and fresh air.
Outdoor learning can engage students in hands-on activities and take on whatever form you want it to take. The best outdoor spaces are created with the help of teachers, parents, and students. Outdoor classrooms can be as simple as using portable whiteboards and storage or carts to bring out supplies or as elaborate as your budget allows. What if your school is in an urban area? Schools can extend learning beyond the school campus into a local park and other outdoor public spaces in their community, such as sports fields.
Spring is right around the corner; this is the perfect time to consider using your outdoor space to extend your classroom. An outdoor classroom is ideal for all subjects. In addition, there are a variety of ways to use the beautiful outdoors, such as worship/Bible time, Storytime, exploring time, drama & skits, collecting and gathering, art lessons, and so much more. Creating an outdoor learning space can empower teachers to promote active student-directed learning with proper planning and materials. The success of an outdoor classroom experience is dependent on making students move and ensuring students and teachers wear appropriate clothing.
Evelyn Sullivan, M.Ed.
Director of Early Childhood Education and R.E.A.C.H.
Evelyn Sullivan is the Director of Early Childhood Education for North American Division. She spent many years teaching young children to love to learn. She has combined her passion for teaching and administration to promote the importance of early childhood education.
Consider Extending Your Classroom Outdoors
Spring is right around the corner; this is the perfect time to consider using outdoor space to extend your classroom.
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