How often do you take lessons outside? The benefits of taking pupils outside the classroom to learn are well documented, with research conducted by Ofsted outlining advantages such as making subjects more vivid and interesting for pupils, enhancing their understanding, and developing pupils’ personal, social and emotional development. (Learning Outside the Classroom, 2008)

With the occurrence of National Children’s Day on Sunday 11th May, we can take this opportunity to evaluate the ways in which we can incorporate the outside world into our lessons. The initiative was developed by the Save Childhood Movement and first took place in the UK last year. 

This is a day that is all about the importance of children and how they have special rights and freedoms that help them to grow into happy, healthy adults. 

…It’s about kids enjoying unsupervised free play where they explore, experiment, be rained on, climb trees, dig holes, jump puddles, catch bugs, balance on logs, make dens, play-fight, take risks and enjoy the excitement and freedom of being a child.

Parents are encouraged to use this opportunity to ensure their children are putting down their tablets and phones and heading out to look at the world around them. One of the best ways to encourage children to interact with nature more is seeing adults around them interacting with nature. Just as recent studies identified the fact that children are more likely to read for pleasure when they see their parents or other adults reading for pleasure, it makes sense that children who see adults around them enjoying the time they spend outside, the more likely they are to partake in outdoor activities. 

Although the benefits for the children are extensive, the benefits are far-reaching for all involved: the environment itself, parents and teachers alike. The Guardian recently stated that:

teachers also benefit from teaching outdoors, becoming more confident and more enthusiastic about teaching and bringing more innovative teaching strategies to their lessons.

So, is it a regular occurrence in your school? For the past couple of years, the fact that less time is spent learning outside the classroom has been identified. However, is this something that we are actively seeking to rectify? In December 2012, The Guardian looked at the decline in time spent outside: 

Concern that schoolchildren no longer have the opportunities to explore the world outside the classroom has been growing in recent years. Health and safety regulation, along with the associated form-filling and fear of litigation, was identified in the MPs’ report as the main culprit for the decline in numbers of children being taken on school trips.

School trips obviously provide endless learning possibilities and no matter what the subject, there will always be a place you can take a trip to in order to learn more about that topic or subject. Going outside the classroom doesn’t always need to mean going out of the school grounds. Just being in the open air in the playground or school field can provide ample learning opportunities and the experiences gained are often cross-curricular.