Schools around the world have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, countries are trying to figure out how to reopen schools safely. Some are considering “outdoor learning,” where, as the name suggests, learning takes place outdoors.
Outdoor learning isn’t new, but the idea is gaining in popularity because of COVID-19. The virus is less contagious outside, and it’s easier to practice social distancing in large outdoor spaces. There are other benefits to outdoor learning, too. Research has shown that spending time outdoors reduces stress, and increases overall feelings of well-being.
In an outdoor-learning classroom, students learn a variety of school subjects – such as math, art, history and science – outside the four walls of the classroom. Students may work on math skills by estimating and measuring the height of a tree. They may study science by designing a nest to keep a mouse warm. They can make costumes out of natural materials that they’ve gathered, and reenact a historical event.
Outdoor-learning classrooms help students build problem-solving skills and leadership skills. It also encourages spontaneity and curiosity, and increases attention span. Outdoor learning can take place almost anywhere – in parks or other local green spaces, and even in urban environments.
Some outdoor-learning schools do all their teaching outside. Others do a combination of indoor and outdoor learning, taking the best of both worlds. Whatever the combination, outdoor learning teaches children that learning can happen anytime, anywhere.