Updated: Mar 24, 2019
Imagine a world where every school has outdoor education built into the school fabric and ethos. Imagine a school where children are truly connected to nature. Imagine a class of children who plant, grow and harvest their own school canteen food.
Well, you'll be glad to hear that these things are possible in every school. In my view, schools have a responsibility to support outdoor learning on their school grounds to ensure the children they educate do not develop an acute case of Nature Deficit Disorder!
Even if your school is concrete from top to bottom, there are still many things you can do to get children outside the classroom and better connected to the natural world.
Step 1: Background Reading
Read 'Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools' from the Natural Connections Project on integrating outdoor learning in schools. This knowledge and background information will help to inform the rest of the process and get the ball rolling.
Step 2: Identify an Outdoor Education Space
Identify an outdoor education space on your school grounds. It could be a corner of the playground or in the shade of trees, for example.
Make sure that it's in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the main school buildings and near to bathroom facilities for convenience.
Step 3: Define the Goals of Your Outdoor Learning Program
Define the goals and specific objectives of your outdoor learning program. What activities do you want to offer your students (e.g. grow vegetables, campfire, cooking)? How old are the children who'll be learning in your outdoor space?
Will you need to build additional infrastructure to make the most of your site and ensure it supports year-round outdoor learning (e.g. an outdoor classroom, a teepee, a greenhouse)?
Step 4: Gather Ideas and Inspiration
Gather ideas and information. Don't hold back. Find photos and plans of existing outdoor learning spaces online.
Pinterest is a brilliant way to gather ideas and concepts on a digital pin board for you to refer back to later and share with others. Try this Pinterest board for hundreds of ideas on outdoor learning spaces.