Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Because this year it is the autumnal Outdoor Classroom Day!
So far, in the UK alone, over 2million learners have participated in this day. Children are increasingly spending more and more time indoors. This is detrimental to their health, their wellbeing and the environment. Without spending time outdoors they can’t develop a sense of place. This is important for helping them feel safe and secure but also for creating a sustainable attitude. A sustainable attitude leads to a love of the natural environment and the theme for this Outdoor Classroom day is…. LOVE
Now, love is in our name. It is at the root of what we do. But why do we love outdoor learning so much. Well, let me share some reasons with you. Then, in a supplementary blog, I shall share some of the activities and lessons I love outdoors at this time of year.
First, I love how outdoor learning is good for mental health. I have written before about how I have struggled over the years with anxiety and depression. There is a school of thought that a lack of connection with nature impacts our mental health. I have not spent a lot of time reading into this, but what I can tell you is that I have spent considerably less time outdoors of late compared to normal. I can also tell you my anxiety is worse than it has been in years. Are the 2 connected? I do not know for sure, but I can tell you that the days I do spend time outside I feel remarkably better and have less panic attacks.
But it is not just adults mental health time outdoors can improve, it has been shown to help children and young people as well. At a time where the children and adolescent mental health teams are over subscribed maybe doctors who are prescribing time outdoors and educators who make it part of their daily practice really are making a real difference.
Another thing I love is how it removes barriers. It opens up both our minds as educators and the children’s minds as to what learning can be. Learning does not, should not, look the same every day. The outdoors gives us variety in a way that an indoor environment cannot. Even just within a playground.
The natural environment can help create a real sense of magic. I am 38 and I still believe. There are fairies. There is magic. We may not be able to see it or understand it but it is there. We have generations sharing stories about the magic in our environment. These stories span the globe and are as old as time itself. This sense of magic can help our children remember the wonder in the world. With so much time spent on technology and living within a rapidly changing world, this age old sense of wonder can inspire and help us create.
I love the beauty of nature. A couple of years ago I was working with a class in Livingston, Scotland. This is a new build town in the central belt. We were in the back playground when suddenly the wind gusted. Immediately we were enveloped in a magical world with gorgeous myriad of leaves raining upon us. The children, and staff, immediately stopped and stared, in awe at this spectacle. It felt like we were within a snow globe. I cannot even remember what we were working on, but I remember the magic of that moment. It was simply beautiful. How can you not love that beauty?
Finally, I love how it brings people together. It encourages communication and team work. These things happen naturally when you are outside. Maybe it goes back to our primal days where we had to pull together to survive, maybe it is something different. But time and again, we see groups, whether they are young or old, children or adults, pulling together as a team.
So tell us, we really want to know, what do you love about outdoor learning?
Get some ideas on what to do for Outdoor Classroom Day