When young children are at a very critical stage of their development, schools and teachers must focus on doing everything within their powers to aid them in their journey to becoming fully formed adults.
One particularly important thing to do is to blend play and learning together seamlessly, as this will greatly help them develop life and educational skills. In this article, we explore why outdoor classrooms for schools improve child development and in what ways.
How Young Students Learn
To understand why outdoor learning and play are linked together, you must first understand exactly how young students learn and develop.
Structured learning environments work well with all ages but must be employed in different frequencies. The younger the student, the more holistically they learn, which really emphasises why outdoor class time is important. Learning holistically means they learn from everything all at the same time. Something they learn from one experience will connect with something else seemingly unrelated and form a connection, which builds context and meaning, and this is why it’s so important not to separate teaching into subject areas too early on.
At Red Monkey Play, we pride ourselves on doing this with various playground equipment units, especially with our outdoor classrooms and shelters range, to allow playing outdoors and structured learning to almost become one.
There are a couple of core ways that students learn which can be combined together to create a holistic experience. These are active and sensory learning opportunities which can be combined together perfectly when conducting outdoor class sessions, be that in an Earth Pod or Wooden Amphitheatre.
Children can really benefit from simple, physical learning due to their cognitive development.
They find it hard to take on concepts until their brain develops more, so children learn particularly well by engaging in activities and active tasks, where play is the best way of offering them these hands-on experiences. Whether it is by reconstructing real situations or building imaginary worlds, children can develop their thinking, language, imagination, speaking, and listening skills through creative play, which prepares them for communicating and interacting effectively with others.
We have a great article on how better school playground equipment leads to smarter kids that you should check out in case you’ve missed it.
Not only do children need to develop their cognitive and physical abilities, but they also need to develop their senses.
Young children learn a lot through their senses which become finely tuned long before they may have mastered their speaking or reasoning skills. This means that they learn mainly through their senses before they even know how to verbalise what they’ve learnt. Because of this, they need many relevant opportunities to explore the objects and materials around them with all of their senses, another reason why outdoor classrooms are so efficient when thinking about how to improve child development with sensory playground equipment.
These opportunities help them to construct and test theories, make decisions, overcome challenges, foster empathy, build resilience, and solve problems for themselves so that they can become independent, confident, and competent individuals.
How Being Outdoors Helps Young Learners
Throughout the years, many studies have shown why do outdoor learning and natural play improve wellbeing time and time again.
Being outdoors is the perfect place to stimulate active and sensory learning simultaneously, as most young children are naturally curious. And this is where an outdoor environment can really stimulate all their senses and let their imagination go wild! Also, spending time outdoors provides a much-needed change of scenery, considering the attention span in younger students tends to be quite low, so mixing things up and taking learning outdoors and away from the classroom can really benefit them.
Outdoor learning allows children to enact all sorts of roleplay activities, play several different active games, and explore new textures, smells and sounds to develop all their senses. In turn, this creates the perfect holistic way for children to play and learn, rather than forcing them to learn through overly structured classroom time.
Following Sweden’s Footsteps
Schools worldwide are employing outdoor learning in their curriculum more and more, and one major example is Sweden.
Sweden possesses one of the world’s leading education systems, so we should all be taking note of what they’re doing and what they’re good at as they’re considered the leader in outdoor learning, so clearly, this learning method has merit.
Did you know that in 2016 the Swedish government spent nearly £60 million on improving schoolyards across the country to make them more suitable for outdoor learning? This huge investment by the leaders in European education signalled that most schools should probably follow in their footsteps. Even their royal family is getting in on the act with the youngest family member, Princess Estelle, who is 10 years old, by enrolling her for the first semester at a cooperative forest school.
This surge in popularity and funding makes Sweden’s use of outdoor learning a clear success. It turns out that the great outdoors is the perfect place for children to get vital life experiences whilst improving their health, which is one of the many reasons why interest in outdoor education has increased considerably in Sweden in the past 20 years. This reminds us all that it’s the school’s job not only to develop smart students but healthy ones too.
If you’re looking for inspiration and help on how to implement wooden playground equipment for schools into your lesson plans, make sure to read our blog.
Examples Of Great Outdoor Classrooms For Schools
There are plenty of great wooden outdoor classrooms for schools that can really facilitate outdoor learning and play in a seamless way.
Our Outdoor Classrooms & Shelters provide an engaging outdoor space for children to listen, learn, and collaborate. Taking teaching outside keeps students engaged, and nothing gets a child more excited about learning than taking them out of their normal environment. Our outdoor classrooms, Sunshine Canopy and Polycarbonate Canopy can also be used as shelters or reading areas, where children can feel comfortable and relaxed.
One of the best examples is our Earth Pod, which literally takes the classroom outside, so you can still have a typical classroom structure but in a different setting whilst allowing outdoor learning to become part of students’ daily school life. Versatile by nature, it can be transformed to suit many outdoor scenarios, a reading snug for quiet time or an outdoor classroom for a sheltered and engaging learning zone outside of the traditional classroom.
Heating and plug sockets can be fitted into the pod, making it a great option all year round. We also understand the need for digital forms of media in modern teaching, so we always make sure you have all the resources you need in place!
Outdoor Shelters And Structures
A gazebo is a perfect place for school outdoor learning or to create a hub for play and social enrichment. For example, they can be used as a diverse space for acting out scenes from children’s favourite movies. If you are looking for a more classic outdoor structure, there is the Wooden Treehouse Classroom. These structures have always inspired outdoor games with their prominent appearance in pop culture, finding their way into famous children’s stories such as Peter Pan. Our treehouse is large enough to hold a whole class of children, where the lookout platform allows them to observe their surroundings high within the trees. It’s perfect for when you want your children to have the chance to take in their beautiful area.
How Can Red Monkey Help You
At Red Monkey Play, we’re dedicated to helping schools and nurseries complement their teaching programme and elevate students to the next level in their play and learning journey from a very young age. We do so by designing and building a truly bespoke and consultative range of outdoor playground equipment that can transform any play and learning area space into learning and play zones that both teachers and students will love!
Are you looking to implement outdoor classrooms for schools? Then browse our wide range of Case Studies to see exactly what we’ve done for our customers, and contact us if you have any questions, as our friendly team is always happy to help! Alternatively, you can book a FREE consultation where we can show you exactly how we create our bespoke school outdoor classrooms with our consultative playground design service.
In case you missed them, here are more useful articles that can offer you much-needed inspiration and information when planning your dream school or nursery playground: