How teaching outside the classroom is helping UK schools
Posted on | Posted in Education
Schools across the country are reopening, with more pupils set to go back as the summer progresses and autumn comes around. Headteachers, teachers and school staff are exploring ways to make physical distancing possible, with smaller class sizes and bubbles of pupils being trialled.
But the reality for many schools is that there are lots of pupils and not enough room to keep a distance, particularly in small, stuffy classrooms. Teaching outside the classroom is one way teachers are spreading pupils out at a safer distance and getting more fresh air into the school day.
Teaching outside the classroom doesn’t have to be chaotic
Many teachers and school staff are apprehensive about the idea of teaching outside the classroom as they believe it will become extended play time. But outdoor learning doesn’t need to be super active. It can simply involve taking the lesson outside under the sky.
Learning outdoors improves concentration, happiness and health
Lots of children have spent lockdown safely behind closed doors, perhaps spending more time on screens than usual and missing out on peer interactions. Teaching outdoors provides much needed stimulation during the school day and can help progress kids’ learning.
Research by the Education Endowment Trust revealed that, on average, pupils who regularly take part in outdoor learning make approximately four months’ additional academic progress.
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.
We’ve spoken before about the developmental power of outdoor play and learning. But moving around and getting more fresh air is important for physical health too, and the pandemic has underlined this. Learning outdoors, whether moving or stationary, allows more safe distance between children and limits sharing of enclosed indoor air and communal spaces.
How to make teaching outside the classroom easier
There are plenty of resources out there for interactive outdoor games and lessons, including these 4 free outdoor lesson plans for teachers. But it’s important to remember that learning outdoors doesn’t always need to be active or energetic.
Taking chairs, tables, or floor mats outdoors is just as engaging. Clipboards and worksheets make it possible to do written work and reading or storytime is an ideal activity to do in the sunshine. For lessons like numeracy or science, using chalks on the ground is a nice alternative to the board.
The more children get used to having their lessons outdoors, the more they will settle into the routine and concentrate in the fresh air and open skies. It’s understandable that many schools feeling apprehensive about teaching outside the classroom, but with the right set up it is easier than you might think.
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