When you think of the typical classroom, you’re probably picturing brick walls, rows of desks, a chalkboard and a few decorations that match the subject being taught. Over this past year, though, the traditional classroom has been flipped. The pandemic sent students home to work from their bedrooms, dining room tables or anywhere they could get their schoolwork done.
Now that kids are returning to school in person, teachers and school administrators are thinking of better and safer ways to transition back to school during COVID-19. Some schools are moving classes outside and adjusting academics to an outdoor setting.
Turning to Outdoor Classrooms
COVID-19 has played a significant role in the popularity of taking classrooms outdoors. Being outside is much safer for the students and staff to learn and teach outdoors.
Indoors, the students and teachers would have to wear masks and social distance. An indoor environment makes the virus more susceptible to spreading since everyone is in a concentrated area. However, when you go outside, it’s less likely that people will spread the virus. Students and teachers have access to fresh air, and they can do their jobs better.
Although outdoor classrooms picked up followers due to COVID-19, they existed pre-pandemic. Some schools had already been implementing outdoor classrooms and learning into their routine and curriculum. Since being outdoors is safer amid a pandemic, people took the idea and ran with it.
The pandemic has presented a trial run for outdoor classrooms, and they’ve been successful. Educators could see what it was like to have class outside without fully committing to it if they felt uncomfortable or didn’t have the resources to hold classes outdoors full time. Additionally, educators are now choosing to bring students outdoors for some classes, like health, science or lunch, without feeling required.
Benefits of Learning Outside
School systems have noticed the benefits of learning outside, besides that it’s safer and healthier for everyone involved. Here are some of those benefits of outdoor classroom learning:
- Improves health: Being outdoors enhances many aspects of your health. When kids are outside, they’re exposed to the sun, which boosts their vitamin D Additionally, kids are more prone to exercise and move when they’re outside, reducing the risk of obesity.
- Decreases stress: The pandemic has undoubtedly made everyone a bit more stressed, but being outdoors naturally decreases stress. It makes them happier and more eager to be in school.
- Betters sleep: Kids need sleep, and sitting at a desk all day doesn’t burn much energy. Outdoor classrooms encourage physical activity, which makes them more tired at night to fall asleep faster.
- Boosts focus: Finally, outdoor classrooms can help increase focus and brainpower. Teachers know it’s challenging to keep students engaged in learning. Walking and interacting with the outdoors satisfies any fidgetiness, and they can channel their energy towards the lesson.
You can apply nearly any subject to outdoor learning. Still, even by starting with a few subjects, like science, math and art, the student will greatly benefit from an outdoor learning environment.
Making a Permanent Outdoor Learning Space
More schools are implementing a permanent outdoor learning space, with durable sun shades and natural elements, like a grass floor and plenty of trees. By having outdoor learning classrooms, teachers can easily bring any materials outside to teach their students, even in a pandemic world.