There are alternative methods to study than slaving away in a quiet room with your head buried in a book or staring blankly at a computer screen for hours on end. It’s a well-documented fact that regular outdoor breaks from study can aid the learning process for everyone, but what’s to say that pupils should only take their breaks outside? As a matter of fact, studies published over the last decade actually suggest that education can be enhanced by outdoor study, and that behaviour can also improve as a result.
The aforementioned studies have been carried out a few times, and can be dated back to 2005 when Richard Louv came up with the concept of “nature deficit disorder”, a condition that can be linked to the feeling of isolation that children who tend to spend the large majority of their time indoors get. This isn’t a standalone study though, and the National Trust body has produced further studies that back up the idea of spending too much time indoors having a negative effect on a child’s learning process. A study of a selection of schoolchildren in Wales in 2011 further enhanced this viewpoint, as the children in the study who spent at least some time outdoors whilst studying showed better performances with regards to their academic performance and the general demeanour.
As you may imagine, schools and parents are increasingly looking for ways in which they can incorporate a child’s education into the wild. Obviously, however, it is not simply a case of transporting a classroom outside – time and money must be spent in order to create the most effective area which is good for study, but also weather resistant.
There has been much information published about creating such a space, and 2009’s “Reimagining Outdoor Learning Spaces” by educational think-tank Futurelab proved a great read for anyone struggling for inspiration. The discussion said (amongst other things) that it was important to create a space, whether it’s in your own garden or outside a school, which encouraged active learning amongst children as opposed to simply recreating a classroom without a roof.
Obviously, creating the perfect space depends on the intended audience as well as a number of other varying factors. Risk assessment is key in this case, and you need to make sure that the learning space offers as few health hazardsas possible. One thing to be sure of is that the furniture, such as tables, chairs and other fittings are as durable as possible and can stand up to whatever the weather decides to throw at them. One way to ensure that both the furnishings and the children are kept covered from any adverse weather would be with the use of a canopy.
The benefits of outdoor learning can be seen by all. Whether your child is part of a lesson conducted outside, or just simply does some homework in the open, you could notice a difference in terms of both behaviour and academic performance over time.