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The past year has taken a toll on all of us, but nobody’s world has changed more than our children's. Our youngest generations are now more used to Zoom school than real school. In some communities, in-person learning is back, while other communities are using a hybrid approach.
But some school systems took a different approach to learning during the pandemic. They started outdoor classrooms.
Think Outside the Box
The World Health Organization recommends outdoor class settings as a way for schools to continue in-person learning. School systems around the country have made the switch. In 2017, more than 250 nature-based schools were serving roughly 10,000 children a year. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused that number to increase significantly.
In fact, the amount of outdoor classrooms has approximately doubled, according to The Outdoor Classroom Project. In the last year, school systems have introduced outdoor learning initiatives across the country. Schools and school districts have reimagined conventional classroom settings to learn beyond the box 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, instead of 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 outdoor classroom movement. We see the potential of a play-based curriculum in education, and we can help your school move learning outdoors with our outdoor site amenities. We have everything you need to 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.