As we near summer, kids are spending less time in the classroom and more time outside, but that doesn’t mean the learning takes a break! There are many educational benefits to spending more time in nature; in fact, it’s not a bad idea to start planning outdoor lessons for the fall.
The English Outdoor Council cites the following five “background benefits” of outdoor learning:
Enhanced personal and social communication skills; increased physical health; enhanced mental and spiritual health; enhanced spiritual, sensory, and aesthetic awareness; and the ability to assert personal control and increased sensitivity to one’s own well-being.
These are described as background benefits because they occur implicitly through spending time outdoors, but there are also “planned benefits” that educators can focus on cultivating, such as cooperating, respect, problem solving and teamwork skills.
Incorporating outdoor learning activities can assist with traditional benchmarking goals as well. Research has shown that student performance, including standardized test scores, tend to improve when students spend more time learning outside. In addition, outdoor learning has been linked to a reduction in ADHD symptoms and stress levels in both students and teachers. Planned outdoor activities can also be a great opportunity to involve parents and the expanded school community in a less structured, informal way.
Encourage your kids and students to get outside this summer, and consider creating more lesson plans for the fall that involve the outdoors. Have them create art projects out of found objects or pressed flowers; start a school or community garden; consider building projects to teach math and science; utilize your local landscape to teach about ecology and biology.
Sources: http://www.englishoutdoorcouncil.org/benefits.of.outdoor.learning.html https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-benefits-of-outdoor-education-michael-becker https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/leaf/school-grounds/documents/outdoor%20education%20research%20for%20school%20Grounds.pdf