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 the goal of an 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. This is where outdoor classrooms come into play.
What is an Outdoor Classroom?
An outdoor classroom is an external shelter within the school grounds, which creates an extended covered practical area for outdoor learning and play. They can be designed to complement existing buildings and surroundings.
These are the perfect solutions for linking learning spaces with outdoor fun, increasing the convenience of physical activities using outdoor play equipment in lesson plans. Implementing these structures in your playground design can create not only an exciting environment but a practical one for teachers.
Check out our 5 key benefits that outdoor classrooms can bring to schools.
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.
When taking advantage of an outdoor classroom, this allows classroom learning to stay fresh. Learning about the environment allows for hands-on activity and exploration. 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 naturally allows students to engage in sensory play. At Red Monkey, we have a number of different playground equipment for sensory development as we view this development as pivotal in a students life. Nature is the perfect place for students to explore new sights, touches and smells and having a classroom with easy access to this is perfect. Being outdoors is fun for children, and the association between learning and enjoyment means that the student is 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, taking learning outside allows you to convey topics and concepts in new ways. This encourages children to process information in ways that suit them.
Are you teaching your class shape vocabulary? Help solidify the vocabulary by creating some real-life 3D shapes from sticks or discovering natural angles found 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 create a natural version of so many day-to-day classroom topics.
What about the academic results? According to researcher Justin Dillon, students learning in an outdoor classroom experienced greater knowledge gain and deeper understanding of topics. This means that you can create more fun and engaging lessons which also boost your school’s academic results. It’s a win-win.
3. Implement Different Learning Styles
It can be hard to implement all the main learning styles (visual, kinesthetic etc.) into one class, especially in a limiting classroom space. Our bespoke outdoor classroom settings allow you to get away from textbook learning and engage in more physical or TPR methods.
A dedicated outdoor classroom provides an area for hands-on lessons. This could include messy art projects, science experiments or loud musical lessons that often can’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 gives students access to all the outdoor playground equipment seamlessly. With all our outdoor playground equipment designed to develop students in a number of ways, this can allow all different learning styles to be implemented into a 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 the environmentally driven vegan movement, it is clear 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 to naturally introduce this inherent respect for the planet can only be a positive thing.
The physical benefits for students connecting with nature can be tremendous, too. The number of children suffering from obesity and diabetes can be reduced thanks to regular exercise – provided perfectly through the exploration of nature!
5. Create Happier and Healthier Students
Which brings us on to 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 spaces. Planned outdoor time with earth pods allows children of all ages and abilities to feel the benefits of nature and the outdoors.
Spending more time outdoors improves mood, so those who learn in an outdoor classroom are less likely to become involved in violence or bullying. It also helps to improve social skills and cognitive development, which in turn allows students to connect with one another and therefore establishing a cooperative, pleasant relationship.
Get in Touch Today
The outdoors is such a useful tool when teaching young learners.It helps speed up their development and keep them on track. Whether this is outdoor classrooms or specially designed outdoor playground equipment, our playground design services will help you create the perfect school playground for your students. Get in touch today to explore how we can transform your outdoor spaces.