Outdoor classroom day is on Thursday 12 October 2017, and aims to encourage schools to get children learning and playing outside. The campaign is led by the charity Learning through landscapes, who are dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children.
Schools taking part in outdoor classroom day will move the classroom outside, and educate children in the outdoors, as well as encouraging outdoor play.
Academic research shows that active play is the natural way that children learn. When outside, children have the freedom to make as much noise as they want, take part in pretend play, and develop their social skills – all without the restriction of being indoors. Children are also able to get more physical exercise when they are outdoors, through running around, exploring, jumping, throwing and climbing on things. Despite the countless education and development benefits, children also gain numerous health benefits through outdoor physical exercise – such as the lowered risk of obesity and weight related health problems. Not to mention, exercise – particularly in the outdoors – is great for mental health.
Not only does being outside make learning more fun and exciting, but it also gives children the chance to experience the different seasons and how things change – such as the falling leaves of autumn. Being outside and playing with natural items, as well as climbing, exploring, running and jumping, can develop fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. Social skills are also developed, as children must learn to cooperate and play with each other.
Outdoor classroom day, and getting children outside in general, seems even more important given recent statistics. A study found that children only spend half the time outside as their parents did, and another study found that ¾ of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates, as they are spending less than 60 minutes outside each day. This, combined with statistics showing that children spend around 6 and a half hours a day in front of screens, shows just the importance of encouraging the outdoors.
If you’re a parent, you could talk to your child’s school and ask them if they are involved in outdoor classroom day. You could even offer to help on the day, to encourage them to get involved and get outside. If you’re a teacher, why not take part in outdoor classroom day as a starting point for taking education outside? You can sign up here.