Real Teachers Share Their Tips For Taking Learning Outdoors.

Red wet pour hopscotch in blue playground flooring

A few months ago, Outdoor Classroom Day posted on Twitter, asking their followers what advice they would give teachers wanting to take the first step towards more time outdoors. The responses were vast and varied and there were so many good ideas shared that we didn’t want you to miss out.

As such, here are just a few of the replies!

@PrimarySarahC replied “Go for it- take the lesson you would do indoors into the outdoors as a start- you will be inspired by the difference no walls makes and then you can sort the creative ideas as they will just flow. ”

@BrimbleGaynor advised “Connect to seasonal changes, involve all senses, model curiosity, remove all ‘toys’, observe what the children are naturally drawn to and build on that interest. Keep it simple!”

@Timbernook reminded people why this topic is so important, replying “When you take learning outdoors — children are fully engaged in the experience and the motivation is high when these opportunities are child-directed. All of this enhances and enriches the learning process on a deep level.”

@MsGaleOCSB suggested “Schedule it into your week. The way you wouldn’t miss gym or library, don’t let yourself miss outdoor time! Have a meeting spot where you start and finish.”

@TeachOutdoors disagreed however,  “Don’t make tedious links eg timetable says every Wednesday afternoon is your slot to do outdoor learning. Go outdoors when it adds enrichment- start little & often. 10 mins outdoors & then back inside to scaffold the learning can add real value & purpose. Experiential learning!”

I guess the take away here, is that there is no right way to do it – simply choose a method that works for you!

Whilst @FESKindTeacher recommended “Find someone else, if only one person in your school, who believes as much as you do in the benefits of being outdoor with the students”

@CPRSmum agreed with many of the points already raised staying “Build it into your daily, weekly and termly planning. Ensure it’s closely linked to the curriculum, not only about getting kids outside. Let families know so they send coats etc daily. Have spare kit ready every day. Find a colleague who will do it too.”

@OnedaywithNan believed keeping things simple was key “Don’t overthink it and don’t try to oversell it (to kids or parents). Just go outside. In all weather. Get dirty. Don’t have an agenda (or make it look like you don’t). Let things happen organically. They’ll want to continue, they’ll want to expand their experience.”

@ClairePasco01 was thinking along these lines when she added “Don’t see it as something extra you have to plan, just see it as a part of your everyday learning…..it’s just a lesson in a classroom with the sky as the roof!”

@MikeW_OutdoorEd suggested “Parents often provide ‘indoor shoes’ for their child at school. Ask them to consider providing ‘outdoor boots’ to be kept in the class. I had 100% buy in.” However a porous safety surfacing such as wet pour may minimise the need for this as it is non-slip and has minimal standing water.

@CopperBeechPlay agreed that involving parents was important “Give parents a heads up so that children can wear appropriate clothes/ bring spares, and have some spares available in the classroom. Every child should have the ability to play and learn outdoors, the benefits are endless!”

@OPALOutdoorplay also mentioned the benefits it can bring to children telling teachers “you will be surprised at the way some children learn far better outdoors than indoors.”

@MissNicHall thought it was important to take a child’s eye-view “Go out on your own first. Look at the space from the eye level of your children. What would they see? What questions might they ask? What would you need to take for them to explore? Learning opportunities will present themselves and then you can take them in any direction.”

@DunhurstODW also thought it was important to think about how children will experience the lesson “If it’s your first ever session outside, choose a nice day. If kids’ first experience is cold, wet & miserable – they won’t forget it. Once it becomes routine, the weather won’t matter!”

Whilst thinking about outdoor leaning from other perspectives, Evelyn Roy reminded us that it was important to think about other members of the school’s staff too.

“Get the buy-in of the school’s janitorial staff. Ensure outdoor time doesn’t bring back extra work for them too. Admin often put the kibosh on rain/ snow activities when custodians complain.”

If your school is keen to get students outside, but are worried about the weather safety surfacing such as wet pour or resin bound rubber mulch may be able to help. This is because they are fully porous, impact absorbent and have been tested for slip-resistance.

If you would like to know more about safety surface, speak to our team today!

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