Should Children be Learning Outside the Classroom?

June 17, 2016 Published by

empty-classroom-day-2016Each year in June, Keep Britain Tidy organises the Empty Classroom Day in the UK, in association with Persil’s Dirt is Good campaign. The day celebrates and inspires learning outside the classroom globally, with schools signing up and pledging to take at least one lesson outside of the normal school environment.

Children benefit greatly from learning outside of the classroom, whether that is outside, or in different environments. It can improve social skills and problem solving, help youngsters to work as a team, and can be lots of fun at the same time. Children who spend some time learning in this way can show improved focus when they return to traditional learning too.

Where possible, actually being outdoors while not in the classroom, is incredibly beneficial to children. There are lots of tips on the site for getting children outside. A recent study showed that three quarters of children in the UK spend less time outside than prison inmates. But if as parents and carers, we can encourage them to play outside, they will learn critical life skills, such as resilience, teamwork, leadership and creativity.

Learning outside can also nurture creativity and imagination, expose children to new opportunities, keep them healthy, improve attendance and reduce behavioural problems.

Research by the University of Derby has shown that children who exhibit a high level of connection to nature, performed significantly better in English KS2 tests and also slightly better in the maths tests.

The Education Endowment Foundation’s research showed that children asked to write about memorable experiences such as a school trip to the zoo, showed a remarkable improvement in literacy standards as opposed to more academic or classroom based writing.

So while classroom based learning is a key part of the curriculum and lends itself well to particular subjects, it’s clear that time in different environments can also help with child development and education.

And there are lots of things you can do with your children outside school hours to encourage this kind of learning.

kids-playing-outdoors-in-treeGoing on a day out, whether it’s a farm, a museum, a gallery, or even a theme park, can help children’s to learn about a huge range of subjects, including art, history, social skills, science and much more. It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip, even a visit to the local park or forest is great for children.

In the play diet, free and imaginative play is the superfood. Getting children out in the garden to play and explore is a brilliant way for them to do this and in turn, learn social skills, such as turn taking and team work, explore the natural world, and it is also great for their health. Even on a rainy day, wrapping up warm and jumping in the puddles is a perfect way to learn outside.

If the weather is keeping you indoors though, there are lots of activities you can do that will help children learn and develop. Cooking and baking, for example, help to teach science, maths and reading skills, while puzzles and board games can develop critical thinking.

Really, the world is their oyster when it comes to learning, so get out with your children and explore the world to help them to learn every day, not just in school.

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This post was written by Georgina Dalton

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