Many schools today pay more emphasis on theoretical learning as opposed to the practical part of education. However, things are changing with some schools adopting outdoor education to offer an all-round learning system. Outdoor learning includes various things such as coursework. It also changes a student’s perception of various issues such as nature and stimulates students to think broadly.
Why Should You Consider Outdoor Learning Activities?
Student’s brains are fascinated by the variety and many students are happy to explore the world outside their classrooms. Adopting outdoor learning activities encourages students to be more involved in their classwork. Further, engaging in outdoor learning activities helps students to connect with nature.
This plays a huge role in helping them to better understand themselves and other people. The best way of understanding topics such as sports, food, and the environment is through encountering them physically. There are numerous benefits of outdoor learning activities for students. These include;
1. Improved Grades
Studies conducted on students in California in 2006 suggested that outdoor education enhances school grades. After being exposed to an outdoor curriculum, the students reported higher scores compared to students in conventional learning systems. These scores represented 72% of comprehensive assessments in all the subjects including attendance, science, and math. Another research as published the same year. It reported that students who engaged in outdoor learning activities had better developed cognitive abilities.
2. Enhanced Health
Living a sedentary lifestyle has been associated with numerous health-related complications. This is why many experts encourage both the young and the old to move around to promote their health. Students who engage in outdoor learning activities are healthier compared to those who spend the entire day inside classrooms.
Students who participate in outdoor learning activities are safe from lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Unlike their counterparts, students who spend lots of time in classrooms are likely to suffer from various complications.
These include; anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and depression. The more time students spend in the natural environment, the more their senses dwindle both psychologically and physiologically.
3. Boosts Motivation
Children hardly derive motivation nor gain personal development from sitting indoors for a long time. Often, they will be fascinated by moving around and discovering new things. Studies conducted on Hollywood kindergarten learners showed that a big number of the students were interested in learning. This, according to the researchers was a clear indication that students want to learn in a more engaging environment. The studies later revealed that students learning within the conventional setting were more motivated after the outdoor learning was incorporated.
4. Reduced Stress Levels
Serotonin, also known as the happy chemical is found in the blood platelets, bowels, and brains. This chemical plays a big role in making you happy while improving your wellbeing. Taking part in outdoor learning activities such as listening to the sounds of nature can trigger the release of serotonin.
Other activities that can increase the production of serotonin are; listening to music and marveling at the beauty of nature. The release of dopamine or the pleasure chemical is stimulated by repetitive actions. For instance, outdoor education activities such as: tracking the progress of plants in a garden daily.
5. Better Perception of the Environment
According to this research conducted in 1999, researchers established by interacting with nature, students changed their perception of the same. This research supported a previous study conducted in 1977 that revealed that gaining knowledge triggers a change in attitude. With a better understanding of outdoor-related activities, students understand the environment better and become more responsible.
Adopting an Outdoor Learning System will help your students to:
- Enhance academic accomplishment
- Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle
- Enhance higher-order learning
- Encourages students and teachers to practice informal learning and teaching
- Promoted creativity
- Makes learning more interesting
- Triggers, enhances, and inspires motivation
- Presents students with more challenges, and
- Gives students a new perception of learning
Preparing for Outdoor Learning Activities
While outdoor learning is fun and exciting, you need to make prior preparations before embarking on your preferred activity. Figuring out whether any minors will be part of your group is especially critical. Here are considerations to make before beginning your outdoor learning activity.
- Establish whether you will be engaging in an educational activity or fun related activities
- Figure out what you want the students to gain after the activity
- Determine how you will help the students to learn
- Is your intended location capable of providing your planned activities?
Conducting a risk assessment will be necessary to ensure that the excursion will be a success. Here are some of the things to consider.
Weather changes and contingency plans
- Costs involved and whether or not students will be ready to pay
- Availability of food stores and sanitary facilities
- Any special needs
- The school’s policy when it comes to excursions and
- Whether or not minors will be in attendance
Outdoor Learning Activity Ideas
Here are some of the outdoor learning activity ideas you and the students can engage in.
Whether or not your school is in an urban area, there are numerous natural learning opportunities you can consider. For instance, identify areas where natural studies and physical activity is widespread and go for nature walks. You may want to structure the nature walks to incorporate scavenger hunts for instance.
Hand every student a checklist complete with natural items they need to collect. They can be leaves, rocks, flowers, bird feathers, or even wild fruits. Ensure they have a basket where they can keep the items they collect. Once the activity is over, you can converge and discuss every item.
Allow the students to ask all the questions they have about the items they have collected. If you are handling older students, you can have them focus on ecological factors. For instance, they could collect recyclable materials and litter during their nature walk.
At the end of the activity, you could converge and discuss the importance of proper waste disposal practices. Leverage on such discussions to instill in the children essential life skills.
Participate in a Charitable Cause
Collaborate with your students to identify local charities and discuss causes that can appeal to them. Once you’ve decided, lay down execution strategies. There are numerous ways of volunteering for charitable organizations. You could visit children’s homes, interact with the children, to learn from them and share life experiences.
Gardening is an ideal outdoor learning activity for students. They will master various skills such as; patience, healthy eating habits, and gardening skills. Students of all ages can engage in gardening activities. Remember, children don’t mind getting their hands dirty and they will be happy to plant seeds and watch them grow.
To make the activity more worthwhile, choose edible and organic plants in which the children can convert into food once they mature. It’s important to mention that outdoor gardening may be a seasonal activity depending on your region.
You can ensure that your students don’t lose interest in gardening during the prolonged cold season. Start creating a planting program for the forthcoming season. Classify your students in groups and have them research different types of plants that are perfect for the climate. Make it interesting by encouraging the students to create meal plans they can use during harvest time.
Adopt Ordinary Work Spaces
Remember, engaging in outdoor-related activities doesn’t mean participating in a special activity or project. If the weather is conducive, students can complete schoolwork outdoors as they inhale fresh air and bask in the sun. You may want to create a workspace outdoors using a long table and desks. Chances are that the students will be happier and more productive outdoors surrounded by nature than they would be indoors.
Go to a Museum
Customize your visit depending on the student level. You will have various options depending on your locality. Some of the options could include natural history, contemporary art, agricultural and maritime museums, or textile exhibition centers. Leverage on the discounts offered in such centers, and ask for guides.
This way, the students will get more knowledgeable. Depending on the students’ age and the unit they are taking, you may want to visit local government centers. Still, you can opt to attend some committee or council meetings where students can learn more about local government functions.
Go for Lunch
Eating together is an ideal way of socializing and bonding with one another. It’s also a great outdoor learning activity especially when students are learning about food and dining. Teachers can introduce students to local cuisine as they dine in restaurants that offer these foods.
They can even organize food preparation activities where students learn how to make these dishes from scratch. Before placing any booking in a restaurant, you want to confirm that prices just to be sure they are affordable.
Choose customized outdoor learning activities for students to break up the monotony that comes with indoor learning. This way, you will help students develop confidence and connect with their course work perfectly. Both teachers and parents should encourage students to develop an interest in nature and other outdoor learning activities.