A vast amount of research has been carried out in recent years and the evidence suggests that outdoor learning can boost children’s educational development and wellbeing. It shows that time interacting with nature can reduce stress among people, and boost their creativity and problem-solving skills. A 2004 study indicated that students taking a part in an environment based education programme reported increased levels of motivation. With this in mind it is a worrying statistic that around three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, this is due to a number of factors namely: the lack of green spaces; digital technology and parental fears.
The Natural Connections Demonstration project (NCDP) is the largest project of its kind in England and has helped over 40,000 primary and secondary schools get out of their classrooms and into the outdoors- including drama out of the school field or a maths lesson in a local park. The project provided strong evidence that learning outdoors has multiple benefits for school children. 92% of teachers surveyed said that pupils engaged with learning when outdoors and 85% saw a positive impact on their behaviour.
Learning outside the classroom builds children’s confidence and can transform their relationships with teachers. The majority of children in the NCDP research thought they learned better and achieved more when learning outside. 92 per cent of pupils involved in the project said they enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors, with 90 per cent feeling happier and healthier as a result.
Furthermore when learning flows seamlessly between indoors and outdoors, it makes the efficient use of resources and builds on interests and enthusiasms. The project found taking lessons outside can also help motivate teachers, with 79 per cent of teachers reporting positive impacts on their teaching practice. Almost 70 per cent of teachers said that outdoor learning has had a positive impact on their job satisfaction and 72 per cent reported improved health and wellbeing.
Top 10 reasons why learning outdoors is a positive thing to implement:
Bring learning to life – Get pupils engaged and on task by letting them explore the outside area freely, encourage confidence and independence.
Make learning relevant – Take the subject outside and apply a realistic content, for example: Music, improvise with material found outside; Science, make systematic observations and measurements; Geography, use fieldwork skills and Art & Design, design and make images and artefacts.
Nurture creativity and imagination- Outdoor learning supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
Develop learning through experimentation- Young children learn a huge amount about volume and textures by using simple things like sand and water play, whilst older children will enjoy exploring and collecting information freely
Enjoy greater resources- The great outdoors is full of lots of useful implements which do not cost a single penny!
Improve attendance- Engaged and motivated pupils will be more positive about their education and more likely to turn up to school
Develop interests in the environment- Teaching outside helps children to understand and respect nature
Expose children to new opportunities- Why not create an allotment where pupils can become green fingered allowing them to develop a better understanding of food science, nutrition and food provenance. Also selling the produce could create budding entrepreneurs!
Keep healthy- Outdoor learning offers children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promotes a sense of well-being.
Reduce behaviour problems- a consequence of children being happy, engaged and motivated is a whole general improvement in behaviour. Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and excitement that is generated when children engage with their environment.
Here at NBB Recycled Furniture we are big supporters of outdoor learning and manufacture a wide range of outdoor furniture which aids in outdoor learning and helps to make it more enjoyable for the children and the teachers. We’ve got everything from our Junior Activity Tables to our Sandpits and Playground Boards! Also we have a great selection of outdoor picnic tables and benches which can be used to create great outdoor classroom areas. 100% recycled plastic is a non-porus material which not only means the furniture will never rot, crack or splinter, it is also extremely easy to clean and can be wiped dry ready to be used after a rainy-spell! Visit our website today to view our fantastic products!