canopy school

The power of outdoor learning and play

Posted on | Posted in Education

We all know the many benefits that being outside and ‘at one’ with nature can bring. There are lots of them (far too many to list in this blog) that range from boosting your immune system to reducing stress.

The benefits that come from embarking on this one single activity’s remarkable. What’s more remarkable, is that you don’t have to be scaling mountains or walking along a beach to feel them, simply being outside in the fresh air is enough for it to work its magic.

Everybody can benefit from being outside

And the great thing is that the magic can work on anybody and everybody. Young or old, men or women, boys or girls, the power of the great outdoors is widely up for the taking.

But factors, such as busy lives and bad weather, often get in the way. Plus, there’s the fact society as a whole has changed to the extent that we tend to spend less time outdoors compared to the generations before us.

But we’re all, schoolchildren included, spending less time outside

For instance, according to a report published by the University College London last year, school breaks have been getting shorter over the past two decades, as teachers try to fit more lessons in or end the school day earlier. The upshot of this is that primary schools have 45 minutes less break time a week than in 1995. Break times at secondary schools are even shorter – 65 minutes.

This research has prompted children’s author, Michael Rosen, to join forces with the British Psychological Society to highlight the importance of break times and play.

Children Playing Outside Under School Canopy

Outdoor learning and play can help children in so many ways 

The argument for spending more time outdoors, particularly the positive connection between outdoor learning and play, has been steadily gathering pace over the years, mainly because it can be attributed to helping improve children’s:

  • Language and communication skills
  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Concentration
  • Creativity

It can help them make significant leaps and bounds with their learning  

Interestingly, research by the Education Endowment Trust has revealed that, on average, pupils who regularly take part in outdoor learning make approximately four months’ additional academic progress.

It can make them feel more positive

Meanwhile, a four-year study of 125 schools carried out by Natural England showed that 92% of pupils enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors, with 90% feeling happier and healthier as a result.


It can stimulate (and accelerate) multiple senses

This is the view of paediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, who says that when children spend time outdoors from a very early age, multiple senses are engaged. This is because sensory progression is stimulated more by nature. This, in turn, can help lay the valuable foundation for learning in later life and is critical for neuro-development.

The evidence to prove the power of outdoor learning and play for the next generation just keeps on coming and we have no doubt will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Do you want your kids to spend more time outdoors, but are struggling for ideas to make it happen? Download our free lesson plans, they’re designed to help teachers plan more outdoor play activities into the school day. This article also contains some useful suggestions for how you can embrace outdoor play more too.

Or perhaps your outdoor learning and play plans are being hampered by the weather? Speak to us today about how installing an outdoor canopy can create more space and weatherproof your outdoor learning and play activities. Contact us on 01254 777 002 or