Outdoor learning ‘boosts children’s development’

_90388644_crystalpalaceparkbbc
Pressures on teaching time and resources often means the benefits of outdoor learning are overlooked, a report says

Outdoor learning can have a positive impact on children’s development but it needs to be formally adopted, a report suggests.

Childhoods were dramatically changing, with fewer opportunities to spend time outdoors, researchers observed.

The loss of exposure to the natural environment would have negative long-term consequences, they warned.

Establishing an “outdoor learning hub” would help teachers, and help shape policies and strategy, they suggested.

Long-term risks

The report highlighted previous studies that showed that busier family lives, combined with an increased sense of fear in society, children were having fewer opportunities to explore their surrounding natural environment.

This was hampering children’s social skills as well as risking stifling their long-term physical, emotional development and wellbeing. Therefore, it was important that schools did not overlook the opportunities that outdoor learning provided to bridge this gap.

“At the moment, if outdoor learning is part of a school’s curriculum in England, it is largely because the teachers recognise the value of it,” said report co-author, Sue Waite, a reader in in outdoor learning at Plymouth University, UK.

“With so much focus on academic attainment, there can be pressure on teachers to stay in the classroom which means children are missing out on so many experiences that will benefit them through their lives.”

Joined-up thinking

Ms Waite added that the report showed that although their was a significant body of research that supports outdoor learning in both formal and informal contexts, it was likely to remain on the margins of education until the benefits were recognised by policymakers and reflected in policies. The report calls for it to be adopted by national curricula.

The report made a number of recommendations, including the establishment of a “strategic policy/research hub” to “collate existing research, prioritise future research needs and help improve the alignment between research and policy”.

The report also proposed a “Framework for 21st Century Student Outcomes” that could be delivered through regular lessons in natural environments.

The outcomes were grouped into five themes:

MORE of the story / click image TOP of PAGE