Throughout my fifteen years of teaching, both inside and outside of the classroom, my experience of leading Outdoor Learning and Forest School, and my experience of leading Outdoor Education and expeditions, I can offer…
My 5 top tips for successful Outdoor Learning:
1.) Embrace what you’ve got!
Outdoor learning can take place in any outdoor environment, from a concrete playground to an ancient woodland. Open your eyes and utilise your environment. Turn that empty corner into a log-circle and fire-pit. Leave the grass at the far end of the field to grow wild and create a natural meadow. Dig a patch of grass up to create a planting area to grow your own vegetables from seed. Allow the children to care for and harvest them before cooking them on your fire-pit. Set a homework for everyone to bring in a small branch and create your own mini-beast log-pile habitats. Have a recycled-materials bin from which children can build and create. Visit that interesting patch of land five minutes walk from your school. Slow down, take a minute and look closer at what you’ve got in front of you! The possibilities are endless, despite any locational restrictions you may have.
2.) Outdoor Learning sessions should take place on a regular basis.
With weekly outdoor sessions, children start to connect to their local environment and take a real sense of pride and care towards nature. They start to notice the difference between the seasons and you and the children will love them all for their own uniqueness. After all, how can we expect our pupils to write a meaningful poem about the seasons if they’ve never spent any real, quality time exploring in the rain or frost? How can we expect them to write an adventure story detailing a character’s experiences in all 5 senses, from the four walls of a classroom? How can we promote a future generation of sustainability if the children we teach have never really connected to their outdoor environment in the first place? A connection with nature begins with solid roots in their primary years.
3.) Don’t restrict outdoor learning to early years and younger ages.
Older children still need to be outside. They still need to be experimenting, creating and exploring. Why develop a child’s creativity and connection with the outdoors in the early years, only to quash it by the time they reach upper primary? Many theories and objectives throughout KS2 can be better taught and learnt through utilising the outdoor environment. Remember, Outdoor Learning isn’t an extra subject, it’s a new way of teaching the same subjects and topics we already teach. A sprinkle of creative teaching initiates creative learning by pupils.
4.) Commit to a whole school approach.
If this means up-skilling a member of staff to initiate or coordinate this move then any investment will be a good one. Various courses are available to provide staff with the skills and knowledge to implement a strategy which works for your school’s needs and constraints. By adapting a whole-school approach to outdoor learning, colleagues can support each other and learning and skills can be built upon as the children progress through your school.
5.) Don’t delay!
Just by stepping outdoors you are opening up a whole new opportunity of learning. You will experience an enrichment of resources and a deeper pupil-understanding. Children will be able to connect classroom theories with reality. Outdoor learning is proven to not only increase pupil motivation, but also to improve behaviour. Nature can actively help us all to de-stress, and this includes the teachers as well as the pupils. Outdoor learning should take place in all weathers and all times of the year. Your pupils only get one chance: they are relying on you to provide them with the best education NOW!
How can we help?
- Outdoor Learning Made Easy Ltd provides Outdoor Learning and Forest School training courses to enable you to run effective outdoor provision. Sign up to our latest courses HERE. Next Courses coming up in May.
- We also provide 100s of lesson plans and guidance documents linked to primary curriculum topics and subjects. Find out more HERE. Get your pupils’ parents on board and improve your parental partnerships. You can opt to add on the Parental Membership to your School Membership; giving all of your parents FREE access.
- Alternatively, direct parents to our website to take advantage of our parent membership HERE. They will be grateful of the advice and ideas! That’s a whole year of outdoor fun for the price of a portion of fish and chips!
- Unsure? Don’t take our word for it! Read testimonials and reviews of our services on our homepage HERE and have the peace of mind that you’re in the right hands with Outdoor learning Made Easy.