Imagine a school with no indoor classrooms? Well, one pre-school hit the news in June when it announced just that! Come rain or shine, children will play outside! It is a topic that may seem alien to some people – playing outside when it’s raining? Surely that will cause illnesses?
There are many benefits from an outside classroom – there are drawbacks also.
Firstly, it can extend the current learning space. Schools, nursery’s and pre-schools can sometimes feel that they are being used to accommodate the rising level of pupils joining their schools. With the use of the outside classroom they are able to fully utilise their school grounds to its potential – without having to extend the physical structure of a school.
Learning outside can have a number of different uses. One day the grounds can be used for a large scale bug hunt – the other, a lovely place to eat lunch under the trees. There are no limits to what children can build, explore and discover when outside.
Everyone has heard about the childhood obesity issues that the UK are currently having – allowing children to run around outside as much as possible will help combat this. Not only does it help with obesity and weight, it is also proven to help with wellbeing, self-esteem and general happiness of children.
The skills that children can gain from working outside are huge – first and foremost is the way their imagination will grow rapidly with the ever changing outside world. Not only this, but no one day is the same outside – their problem solving skills will come into play on a daily basis!
However, although the benefits are huge there are a number of drawbacks which can stop schools wanting to spend the time outside.
Health and safety plays a massive part in schools deciding whether to take their children outside to get muddy and learn. As a teacher, you are responsible for your children during the time they are in your class -risk assessments and consent forms can prove to be a headache for staff and many could shy away from the idea due to this.
The Great British weather can also cause a huge stumbling block for the outside classroom. If your institution is not properly set up for outside classrooms with canopy’s/all weather covers – it may prove difficult to ensure that your lesson plans outside are stuck to. Not having the correct clothing when the weather takes a turn for the worst could prevent outdoor activities. It isn’t just the rain – sometimes the heat can cause issues too!
Throughout research and case studies across this, results have shown that pupils tend to have increased concentration and are more motivated, inspired and willing to learn when they are outdoors. If your institution is considering an outside learning environment, there are numerous organisations around which are to help schools create the most worthwhile outside spaces.