August 31, 2020
Preparing for back to school looks different this year. We know educators and parents are focused on how to keep students safe while offering quality learning environments. Using design principles of forest schools and open-air learning, we’ll work with you to create an environment where children will thrive. Forest schools and open-air learning have existed for almost a century. They were intended to curb the spread of infectious diseases and keep kids healthy by offering fresh air, good ventilation and exposure to the outdoors. Our outdoor classroom solutions are perfect for schools, pre-schools, after-school programs, day camps, museums, art galleries and churches, as they provide safe and stimulating learning environments. Students can spend 1 hour, 1/2 a day or an entire day learning outdoors. Forest school educators will tell you issues in the classroom literally disappear when students are learning outdoors. Children who find sitting in a classroom a challenging and sometimes anxious experience, tend to thrive in outdoor learning environments. Research from around the globe has shown that spending time outdoors can ease some symptoms of depression, enhance memory and cognitive function, reduce stress and improve creative thinking and problem solving. All of that is conducive to enhanced learning.
How Students Benefit From Outdoor Learning
- Increase Self-Confidence – Learning outdoors offers new challenges, different from the indoor classroom experience. As students accomplish these new challenges, they build self-confidence and enhance relationships with teachers and classmates.
- Connect Students With Science & Nature – Children are more inclined to become stewards of the environment when they spend time enjoying nature. Being outdoors fosters STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning too.
- Strengthen the 5 Senses – Children have different learning styles, and being in nature supports those different styles. Hearing a songbird. Smelling a flower. Feeling the bark of a tree. Tasting snow. Activating all five senses can help children learn.
- Reduce Stress & Bullying – Nature has a calming effect on our bodies as it helps to lower stress and anxiety. Outdoor educators report students have more self-discipline and are less likely to behave inappropriately when they are learning outdoors.
Traditional School Classrooms
Take learning outside. Wooden seats, tables, whiteboards and chalkboards allow educators to replicate the indoor classroom experience outdoors. Seating can be adjusted as required throughout the day and to account for physical distancing. Hand sanitizing stations can be positioned beside each classroom and shade sails help to protect against the elements.
The Pinecone is an excellent solution for easy classroom management in an outdoor environment. Educators are reassured students are safe while still physically distancing on Lily Pad seating. Whiteboards or chalkboards are some additional features available for Pinecone Classrooms.
For educators looking to bring a natural element to their classrooms, the UPC Parks seating and podium, Waterplay rocks, and grass shade structure, help to connect students with nature. These elements are permanent installations due to their size and weight. A nature-based classroom can also include chalkboards, whiteboards and hand sanitizing stations.