Embracing the outdoors

23rd October 2019

We do as much outside as possible – we’re lucky to have great weather pretty much all year round which is a big help. But Outdoor Classroom Day is an opportunity to try out new ways of making the most of our outdoor space, as well as celebrating what we already do.

Making the most of time outdoors

We’re really trying to make our time outdoors as beneficial as possible to the children. A couple of our children are allergic to bees and we get a lot in the school grounds, so this year we have a beekeeper coming to visit, to help the children understand more about their behaviour and to feel more comfortable to be around them.

For the next Outdoor Classroom Day, our occupational therapists are planning a whole school movement session to do with children in the playground. They’re bringing OT techniques that make the most of movements into a choreographed movement routine. It’ll be therapeutic and lots of fun for the kids.

Being indoors all day is unnatural

I think the benefits of getting outdoors for our children – who have learning difficulties – are particularly pronounced. Being indoors all day is unnatural and it’s unrealistic to expect children to sit and learn over such a long period of time without getting frustrated and losing focus. They engage so much more when they’re outdoors and able to move around – and learn better in the class with frequent short movement breaks outside.

Schools and teaching in South Africa are quite traditional and this formality can be a barrier to taking learning outdoors. Many government schools struggle with resources and funding so getting outdoors can seem unreachable. That’s why it’s important to get more exposure for outdoor learning so we can show that you can use whatever outdoor space you have and that you don’t need much else.

Time outdoors should go beyond the school gate

I think that getting outdoors is important outside of the school gates as well. We held a reading picnic recently where all of the parents brought a book and a picnic basket. We want to involve parents as much as possible so they can see for themselves the impact that it has on their children and to inspire them to do more outside in nature with their children.

The advice I would give to others wanting to take the first step towards making more time outdoors part of the school day is to start off allowing the children to take short brain breaks outside, either in between lessons or when they are looking restless and tired. I would also look at content that you are planning to teach and find one aspect that could be done outside. Read- alouds and independent reading time is also very nice to be done outside. It is easier to start small and build on.

Lauren Creamer About Lauren

Lauren Creamer is a trained teacher and now a therapist for children who experience barriers to learning at King David Ariel – a Jewish Primary School in Johannesburg, South Africa. She came across Outdoor Classroom Day on Facebook in 2018 and approached her Principal to see if the school could get involved.

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Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

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Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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