22 October 2019
Research shows that playing and learning outdoors as part of the school day gives children a better understanding of the environment.
4000 schools across the UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) will take their classes outdoors on 7 November as part of the global Outdoor Classroom Day campaign. More than 650,000 children and young people will join over two million more students from around the world who will leave their desks behind and explore the world beyond four walls.
The UK and ROI campaign, led by leading school grounds charity Learning through Landscapes, inspires and celebrates outdoor learning and play which is known to have a profound impact on children’s health, development and happiness. Leave No Trace are supporting this campaign across the island of Ireland.
The campaign’s Muddy Hands report shows that outdoor learning and play encourages children and young people to be more active, boosts mental health and results in better learning outcomes across the board. Importantly, getting outdoors also connects children to the environment and increases a desire to protect it. In our research, 86% of teachers worldwide say that playing outdoors gives children a better understanding of the environment. This reinforces the results of a five-year study conducted by Natural England* the largest ever trial of an outdoor education programme, where 94% of the teachers involved reported that outdoor learning led to a greater understanding of nature. Teachers benefit from time outdoors too and schools that prioritise outdoor learning enjoy higher teacher retention.
Carley Sefton, CEO at Learning through Landscapes said: “In a world where our children are spending more and more time indoors, schools are perfectly placed to be powerful advocates for more time in the natural environment.
“Not only is outdoor learning and play great for children’s health, happiness and development, it helps them to develop the knowledge and skills to take practical action for the planet.
“Providing opportunities for awe and wonder in the natural environment is essential. Research shows that children will protect the things they love, so fostering a connection to the environment, and helping children develop the abilities to protect it as early as possible, is critical in addressing the climate crisis.
“This autumn, Outdoor Classroom Day is celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) and we’re sharing some great resources to inspire teachers to take these vitally important subjects outdoors. Visit our website to explore the new materials alongside teacher-favourites on subjects spanning the curriculum.”
Speaking of her school’s participation, Hazel McKinnon, Principal Teacher at Isobel Mair School in Glasgow said: “We are participating in Outdoor Classroom Day because we feel it is important to highlight the benefits that learning outdoors can have for pupils.
“It helps to support their mental health and wellbeing, encourages them to think differently about activities they are doing, supports them to develop team-working skills and teaches them life skills that will help to prepare them for later life.
“Many of our pupils thoroughly enjoy learning experiences outdoors, and literacy and numeracy activities can be explored in new and different contexts.”
Schools can sign up to take part on the Outdoor Classroom Day website which also has a library of outdoor lesson ideas that they can access for free: www.outdoorclassroomday.org.uk