By: Christina Hughey
The school of the future has no roof. Many schools have incorporated an outdoor classroom, but now some schools (particularly preschools and kindergartens) are taking this concept a step further. Some school programs are now entirely outside. Rain or shine. These schools became particularly popular after the book “Last Child in the Woods” came out. Richard Louv the author brought awareness to the problem many children of modern times are facing, the lack of the outdoors which has now been replaced with screen time. Nature Deflect Disorder is a term that Richard Louv coined up, which describes the negative effects a person experiences when not spending enough time outside. He also mentioned how some diagnosis such as ADHD and anxiety in children could be helped immensely by just getting those kids outside more. People of all ages thrive in nature.
While we are seeing people moving in the right direction when it comes to nature, we are still seeing others taking a step back. One example of this is the schools that are cutting recess time. Recess is the time kids can get outside and have a mental break, especially after having to sit in the same spot for several hours. Ever heard of the term sitting is the new smoking? In fact, not getting enough exercise can cause many of the same symptoms and diseases as smoking. Not everyone will be able to attend an outdoor school, so those kids rely on recess and their time outside to recharge. Nature helps kids recharge and be more prepared to learn.
One of the best ways to learn is from learning in the outdoors. Longer attention spans, better focus, and boosting creativity are all benefits kids will experience when spending time outside. The outdoors is a human’s natural habitat. Notice if you go to the zoo you will see animals who are anxious and sometimes irritated, you may even notice them pacing. We know that all animals flourish in the wild.
An outdoor learning experience offers a unique education for each child. Many preschools offer free time for children. In an outdoor classroom this time is very special and a wonderful learning experience. This is the time when kids can explore anything they want in nature, by doing so they will make all sorts of unique discoveries. This type of learning is completely customizable, if the child is interested in the animals they will have the opportunity to learn a lot about them. Or if a child is interested in learning about weather what better place to learn then outside! No matter what the child is interested in, they will benefit from spending hundreds of hours outside a year.
An outdoor school allows for a child to flourish. In fact, their lessons outside will seem more like play than work. Children who attend outdoor schools really excel in biology, for nature is surrounding them and studies show that children who learn outdoors do better on standardized tests and have better academic results. Outdoor schools are our future, and I am excited to see outdoor schools grow in popularity. What do you think of outdoor schools? Would you send your child to a school completely outside?