The past year has been difficult for everyone, but children have experienced a lot of change in their lives. School held over video conferences has become the new normal. Unfortunately, there aren't many options for school systems to resume in-person classes.
Some school systems took a new approach to educate students during the pandemic. They started outdoor classrooms.
The World Health Organization recommends an outdoor class setting as a way to continue in-person learning. School systems around the country have made the switch. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused schools to explore ways to create outdoor classrooms.
In fact, the amount of outdoor classrooms has approximately doubled, according to The Outdoor Classroom Project. In 2020, school systems introduced outdoor learning initiatives across Canada. Schools and school districts have reimagined conventional classrooms to take learning outside the confines of a traditional classroom.
Benefits of Outdoor Learning Spaces
Outdoor learning environments are beneficial for a child’s overall development. There is a recent report from the University of Adelaide. It found that time spent outdoors, as opposed to on a screen, greatly contributes to academic success. And children who frequently use outdoor spaces are less likely to develop emotional health issues later in life. There are so many reasons to get kids outside!
Outdoor classrooms provide potential benefits beyond cognitive and emotional development as well. Research shows taking classes outside promotes a healthier lifestyle. Green schoolyards offer play-based solutions to the obesity epidemic in the United States. And they also teach children healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Same Lessons, Different Location
Many educational groups provide guidance and curriculum for schools looking to move classes outdoors. It has never been easier for school districts to make the switch! Organizations like the Nature-Based Education Consortium have even outlined specific projects for every subject that can be completed outdoors. Some potential, hands-on lessons include:
- Birdhouse building
- Poetry based on surrounding nature
- Obstacle courses
- Planting a garden
- Biodiversity of the schoolyard
- Pinwheel wind turbines
Creating an outdoor learning area doesn't have to be complicated. The right combination of benches, seats, tables, and shade structures can transform any outdoor space into a learning environment. And you can help children keep their hands clean with outdoor hand sanitizer stations.
Whether it’s an art lesson like making a painting using natural pigments or science lessons like creating a food web, outdoor classrooms can teach children the same lessons - just in a different setting!
Partners for Outdoor Learning
GameTime supports the movement to create outdoor classrooms. We believe a play-based curriculum creates additional developmental benefits for students, and outdoor classrooms can make it possible for schools to reinstate in-person learning.
GameTime can help you create your outdoor learning environment, from seating and tables to shade and hand sanitizer stations.
If you would like to turn your dream outdoor classroom into a reality, contact your local GameTime representative today.