Education is leaving the confines of the classroom more than ever. Gone are the days of the class being the only space for young people to develop essential skills. With the rise of outdoor learning and the importance placed upon it, getting children outdoors more should be a primary goal for any teacher and educator.
The problem with this though is, that sometimes, the structure of a classroom is needed for the lesson planned. There may be an opportunity for an outdoor section of the class, but that takes up some precious lesson time. With shorter school days and more pressure on class performance, every second counts now, which makes excursions and outdoor activities much less likely.
In this article, we talk about the top 5 benefits of outdoor classrooms for schools, and how you could create your own so that your pupils can enjoy the beauty of nature whilst learning and having fun.
What Is An Outdoor Classroom?
Outdoor classrooms are external shelters within the school grounds, which create an extended covered practical area for outdoor learning and play, and they can be designed to complement any existing buildings and surroundings.
They are the perfect solutions for linking learning spaces with outdoor fun and increasing the convenience of physical activities using outdoor playground equipment in lesson plans. Implementing these structures in your playground design can create an exciting environment for children, as well as a practical one for teachers.
1. New Ways To Engage Students
With every class using the same learning tools, it can get very stale for students. If every class utilises textbooks, whiteboards and occasionally some interactive technology, it becomes very hard for them to be engaged from class to class.
With an outdoor classroom, children can enjoy learning in unique ways that will keep them engaged, interested, and excited for longer. Learning about their environment allows the little ones to explore via many hands-on activities. There’s rarely a right answer when it comes to creativity, so the focus is very much shifted onto the learning process rather than the final outcome. This gives students the freedom to express themselves in an uninhibited environment.
This also naturally allows students to engage in sensory play. At Red Monkey Play, we have a number of different sensory playground equipment as we view this development as pivotal in student’s life. In case you missed it, find out more from our School Guide on What Is Sensory Play.
Nature is the perfect place for children to explore new sights, textures, and smells, and having an outdoor classroom with easy access to this kind of learning environment is perfect. Being outdoors is fun for children, and the association between learning and enjoyment means that the student is much more likely to be an engaged and enthusiastic learner later down the line.
2. New Ways To Teach Class Topics
Imagination is limited within the classroom, and taking the learning experience outside allows you to convey topics and concepts in new ways. Furthermore, this encourages children to process information in ways that suit them the best.
If you are looking to teach your class how to shape their vocabulary, you can easily do so by creating real-life 3D shapes from sticks, or by discovering natural angles that can be found only in the great outdoors. How about creating some leaf collages, or writing a short story about the scarecrow found at the bottom of the garden? You can even create a natural version of so many day-to-day classroom topics.
What about the children’s academic results? According to researcher Justin Dillon, there are many reasons why you should consider outdoor classrooms, as students learning outdoors experience greater knowledge gain and a deeper understanding of learning topics. This means that you can create more fun and engaging lessons, which will also boost your school’s academic results. It’s a win-win!
3. Implement Different Learning Styles
It can be very hard to implement all the main learning styles (visual, kinesthetic, etc.) into one class, especially in a limited classroom space. This is the reason why another one of the many benefits of outdoor classrooms for schools is that they allow you to get away from textbook learning, and instead, engage in more physical and TPR methods.
In case you are still wondering why outdoor classrooms for schools improve child development, we have all the answers you need! A dedicated outdoor classroom provides an area for hands-on lessons, which could include messy art projects within a Messy Area, science experiments, or loud musical lessons within a Rustic Music Centre that usually couldn’t be conducted indoors.
This allows our vast range of outdoor classrooms to be perfectly complemented by our equally vast range of products. Allowing the barrier between class spaces and outdoor spaces to be broken down offers students access to all the outdoor playground equipment available to them in a seamless way. All our outdoor playground equipment is specifically designed to develop students in a number of ways and can allow all different learning styles to be implemented into a learning class.
4. Encourage Respect For Nature
The importance placed upon caring for the environment is being emphasised in the news and popular media now more than ever. With initiatives focusing on offsetting carbon emissions like Offset Earth, and with veganism being the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce our environmental impact, it is clear that the public is now starting to expect these standards from companies.
Having students engage more with nature and the environment will help instil these values in them early on. Going green is never a bad thing, and naturally introducing this inherent respect for the planet can only be a positive thing. The physical benefits for students connecting with nature can be tremendous, too. For example, the number of children suffering from obesity and diabetes can be reduced thanks to regular exercise, which can be easily provided through the exploration of nature!
At Red Monkey Play, we have a wide range of play equipment that can introduce children to the wonders of the natural world in a fun and interactive way, such as our Nature Outdoor Play Equipment and Woodland Range which your students will love!
5. Create Happier And Healthier Students
Another one of the most important outdoor classroom benefits surrounds the health of your students, both physically and mentally. The outdoors can promote a huge number of health benefits, due to an emphasis on physical activity and access to fresh air.
Young students are sometimes afraid to play outside, as competitive games usually dominate most play spaces. However, planned outdoor time for learning and playing in Earth Pods, for example, allows children of all ages and abilities to feel the benefits of nature and the outdoors.
Spending more time outdoors can greatly improve children’s mood, so those who learn in an outdoor classroom are less likely to become involved in violence or bullying, research shows. It also helps to improve social skills and cognitive development, which in turn, allows students to connect with one another, and therefore establish cooperative and pleasant relationships.
Get In Touch Today
Now that we covered the top 5 benefits of an outdoor classroom, we hope you can see how the great outdoors can become a powerful tool for teaching young learners in new ways.
You can speed up your student’s development and keep them on track, whether this is through outdoor classrooms or specially designed outdoor playground equipment. Our playground design services can help you create the perfect school playground for your students, and all you have to do is to contact us so we can start exploring together how we can transform your school’s outdoor spaces, so your pupils can experience a whole new world of fun, learning, growth, and development!