Outdoor learning comes with a whole host of different benefits, from teaching children about nature and encouraging them to take an interest in the environment, to promoting wellbeing and improving mental health. Clearly, outdoor learning is something to be encouraged, but how exactly can that be done?
At Landscapes 4 Learning we are passionate about outdoor learning, and have put together this list of simple top tips for encouraging it in your school.
Our simplest recommendation when it comes to encouraging outdoor learning is to provide an outdoor classroom. Having a space which is specifically designed for learning outdoors means that you are much more likely to incorporate it into your teaching in a regular and consistent way, as it allows children to learn in a familiar classroom setting just moved into the great outdoors!
An outdoor classroom can also be used for all sorts of different lessons and by all ages, so it really does make outdoor learning simple and easy to implement across the board.
Having some school assemblies outdoors is a great way to get the whole school outside together, and to make those assemblies seem extra special. Having assemblies outside is also a really good way of getting children used to being outside whilst at school and having to stay focused and well behaved, which can make outdoor learning easier and more accessible.
An outdoor stage could not only be the base for your outdoor assemblies but could also be used for open air musical or theatrical performances. This is a great way of boosting confidence and self esteem whilst encouraging creativity alongside outdoor learning.
An outdoor stage can also be used by children in their breaks to express themselves and let their imaginations run wild without the confines of being inside.
Making sure your children have appropriate clothing ready means you don’t have to wait for perfect sunny days for outdoor learning to work. Ensuring that everyone has raincoats, welly boots, spare socks, warm gloves, hats and scarves, as well as sun hats and sun cream in the summer, means that they can enjoy outdoor learning all year round.
Let’s face it, waiting for perfect sunny days to have any lessons outdoors would make outdoor learning a very rare occurrence indeed!
As well as making sure everyone has the right clothing ready for all weather conditions, a great way of making sure outdoor learning isn’t reliant on the weather is to provide shelters. Having shelters to protect children from hot sunshine as well as rain and wind means that outdoor learning can go ahead whatever the weather. Shelters are also always a hit with children as they feel cosy and safe, like a den they might build to play in at home. They can also be very useful at playtime for children to shelter from the sun and rain and play comfortably.
A great way of encouraging outdoor learning is to encourage nature and wildlife to flourish around your school. Installing bird feeders, bird baths and bird watching shelters can be a really fun way of getting children excited about wildlife, as well as insect hotels and ponds.
An even easier way to encourage nature is to grow interesting flowers and plants, especially vegetables and fruits which can then be picked and used by children in cooking. When children are interested in nature, outdoor learning doesn’t need any encouragement at all.
Another simple way of encouraging outdoor learning is to set homework which involves the outdoors. By setting activities and tasks which need to be completed outside, you can encourage children to continue their outdoor learning both inside and outside of school, getting them interested in the outdoors in their own time too.
Outdoor homework is also a welcome break for children from more traditional homework tasks. This can improve overall wellbeing and mental health, reducing stress and giving your children a bit of a rest whilst still learning and developing.
Get parents involved
By getting parents involved in outdoor learning, you can keep it going both at school and at home. You can also encourage children to get excited about outdoor learning by letting them follow their parents’ examples.
Why not try asking around to see if any parents or grandparents are keen gardeners, botanists, birdwatchers, beekeepers, florists or anything else to do with the outdoors? You might well be surprised by how many people with interesting skills involving outdoor learning would be keen to come in and give a talk or presentation on something new and interesting.
Schedule it in
A surefire way of encouraging outdoor learning and having it become a regular part of your teaching is to simply schedule it. Making outdoor learning a scheduled, regular part of the school week means that you are much more likely to stick with it, come rain or come shine, and this is what will really let your children reap the rewards.
If you would like to encourage outdoor learning in your school, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Landscapes 4 Learning for more information or advice on what you can do. You can also browse our range of outdoor learning resources online, from outdoor classrooms to kids construction and mud kitchens. We’ll be more than happy to help you on your way to encouraging the wonderful thing that is outdoor learning.