The Great Outdoors: Why Outdoor Classrooms are Good for Student and Teacher Health
- By Conor Crozier
- 29 Dec 2022
Outdoor classrooms are becoming more popular as educators and parents realize the importance of getting students outside. Not only does this provide a change of scenery, but it has been proven to improve student and teacher health! In this blog post, we will discuss some of the benefits of an outdoor classroom and how you can start using one in your own school or district.
1. Improved Concentration and Attention:
Students who attend classes in the great outdoors have been found to benefit from improved concentration and focus in the classroom. Interestingly, it is thought that this phenomenon occurs due to something known as “attention restoration theory”, which states that natural environments provide something of a mental respite from otherwise hectic lives. In modern cities, there is often limited time for students to take a break and appreciate the natural world simply. By attending classes outside, however, learners can take advantage of improved attention spans, increased engagement, and better long-term academic results. Next time you consider studying during the summer recess, why not go out into nature to make the most of your learning experience?
2. Improved Physical Health:
Outdoor classrooms provide students with an opportunity to get moving throughout the day. Unlike traditional classrooms, there is a greater emphasis on movement and getting physical activity. This can lead to improved overall health among students, as well as better mental health outcomes due to reduced stress levels. Additionally, outdoor classrooms offer educators the chance to incorporate physical activities into their lessons; this allows them to teach with real-world applications and increases student engagement.
3. Improved Mental Health:
Formulating healthy coping strategies to handle mental stress is becoming increasingly crucial in our everyday routine. One beneficial activity that teachers and students can both take advantage of is spending extended periods of time outdoors. Research has demonstrated the positive effects on mental health from outdoor activities; exposure to natural elements such as sunlight, fresh air, and the sounds of nature was found to have a significant calming effect on stress and anxiety symptoms while improving overall mood compared to traditional classroom environments. Teachers, in particular, have benefited from taking a break and recharging their minds and bodies with extended outdoor activities; they are then better able to refresh their teaching style with improved mental well-being.
4. Improved Socialization Skills:
Outdoor classrooms also allow students to socialize in a safe, supervised environment. This helps to build important interpersonal skills such as communication and collaboration, which are essential for success in the modern world. Furthermore, outdoor classrooms create a more relaxed atmosphere than traditional classrooms; this leads to improved student-teacher relationships, which can significantly impact overall academic success.
5. Improved Engagement:
Combining improved concentration and physical activity with increased socialization helps create a learning environment in which students are more engaged and motivated. Research has demonstrated that outdoor classrooms offer learners an immersive experience, as they are able to learn through direct interaction with the elements around them. Not only does this provide teachers with an opportunity to incorporate real-world applications into lessons, but it also gives students a chance to explore and discover new interests.
Tips for Implementing Outdoor Classrooms:
We have some great tips to get you started implementing outdoor classrooms in your school:
1. Start small
Establishing outdoor classrooms in a school takes time and effort, and it is important to be judicious as you start to incorporate them into the school curriculum. A great way to begin your outdoor classroom journey is to start with one or two classes, allowing students and teachers to become accustomed to the format. This provides an opportunity for feedback, allowing educators to make any adjustments needed before introducing outdoor learning spaces throughout the entire school. With thoughtful implementation, outdoor classrooms can be a great addition for any school wanting to give their students a more varied experience!
2. Follow safety guidelines
Safety is paramount when it comes to outdoor classrooms. Teachers should take the necessary precautions to ensure that their students are safe at all times. This includes making sure that students adhere to school rules. Such as not running or playing in hazardous areas. Proper supervision during class time, and providing appropriate clothing for the weather is paramount.
3. Use technology
Technology is a great way to incorporate outdoor learning into the classroom. Many apps and websites offer interactive activities, videos, and other resources to help teachers bring the outdoors into the classroom. This can be especially useful for students who may not have access to outdoor classrooms due to space or financial constraints.
4. Getting the community involved
The success of outdoor classrooms is inextricably linked to their support from the broader community. It is important to involve students, parents, and local businesses in order to ensure that the experience is as beneficial as possible. This could include having volunteers help prepare materials, provide activities, or offer incentives for students who complete outdoor classroom activities.
5. Celebrate successes
It is important to celebrate the successes that come from outdoor classrooms. Take the time to recognize student achievements, teacher efforts, and community involvement. This will help ensure that outdoor classrooms continue to be an integral part of the school experience.
6. Make it fun
Outdoor classrooms should be enjoyable for everyone involved! Make sure to incorporate activities that are engaging and stimulating for students and plenty of breaks throughout the day. This will help keep students motivated and excited about learning in an outdoor setting.
Outdoor Classrooms – Conclusion
By implementing outdoor classrooms, schools can give their students and teachers the opportunity to reap the benefits of learning in nature. Outdoor classrooms foster engagement and exploration and provide physical activity and increased socialization. With the thoughtful implementation and community involvement, these spaces can be a great addition to any school looking to provide its learners with an exceptional education experience.