By Virginia Cooper, Guest Author
Learning experiences outside the classroom can positively impact students, as they offer kids a chance to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom. Moreover, this approach offers a student-centric learning experience that fosters both social and personal development.
Research suggests that learning experiences that occur outside the classroom highly motivate the learner and improve their ability to recall information, which enhances their overall academic performance. Besides being an active process, learning outside the classroom frequently poses authentic problems that test for real solutions.
Integrating outdoor experiences into the typical education curriculum offers limitless opportunities for learners to excel both socially and academically. Other than improving their motivation and memory, these adventures also positively impact the student’s health, social skills, and behavior.
This blog post from Antinanco Earth Arts School focuses on specific tactics and activities for learning outside the classroom. Read on to learn more!
Spending Time In Nature
Nature offers an amazing place to interact with the world around us. When learning outdoors, students feel more engaged and connected with the material. As such, during outdoor lessons, your learners can collect plants, rocks, insects, or minerals for projects. For instance, during a biology lesson, collecting leaf samples can help with tree identification, while those studying geological history could collect rocks for comparison.
Need some ideas for backyard learning? Take your students outdoors and measure angles and identify geometry shapes around them. Or, to tap into their creativity, let them sketch and label their surroundings. But remember that outdoor learning can also involve activities such as camping, photography, singing, dance, and art — find out what your kids enjoy and tailor the lessons to their interests. For example, you could partner with a local gardening or nature club, which can help teach kids how to advocate for a greener planet.
Bring History to Life
Part of any outdoor learning experience should include revisiting history and bringing it to life. For instance, I once took my kid to a field where we recreated the famous Greek and Roman military commands. I then posed several math challenges during the recreation that tested whatever they learned when sitting behind a school desk.
A good example is when I tested their knowledge of angles by using commands such as “turn 45 degrees to the left.” Alternatively, you could conduct a lesson under a tree shade where students present projects that test their knowledge of Greek philosophers.
Talented students can learn and practice new sports as well as those they’re already interested in. In addition to keeping them fit, sporting activities help kids stay healthy and ready to learn. Moreover, sports encourage team spirit, management skills, and discipline — but make sure your child has an interest in team sports before signing them up.
Challenge your learners to try different — and safe — science experiments that not only challenge their theoretical understanding of different concepts but also help improve their creativity and problem-solving skills. The outside world offers free and limitless resources that can be incorporated into these experiments.
One type of science experiment that can hone a learner's skills is one that tests for the refraction of light when it passes through different media. This particular experiment involves placing a ruler vertically in a container half-filled with water and checking the ruler's appearance above and below the water level.
Inspiration for You
Finding ways to teach your kids about the outdoors may inspire you to pursue a career in education. If you’ve always wanted to be a teacher but never had the opportunity to pursue this dream, consider enrolling in an online program geared toward educators. The best part of online education is that you don’t have to worry about heading to physical class — instead, you can finish your work at home while looking after the kids.
Generally, teachers are often too hesitant to venture into teaching beyond the classroom by wrongly assuming that they’ll lose the focus and attention of their students. However, the exact opposite is true. So, if the sun’s shining, take the kids outdoors for a little educational fun. You may be surprised by the difference it can make!
Virginia Cooper is a retired community college instructor. She always encouraged her students to see the real-world value in their education, and now, she wants to spread that message as wide as possible. Her hope is that Learn a Living will be a go-to resource for adult learners embarking on starting, continuing, or finishing their education.
Antinanco is a nonprofit entity committed to preserving traditional and indigenous knowledge, and providing access to education through wellness, mindfulness and nature experiences, as well as hands-on projects and environmental conservation projects. We involve children, families and youth groups in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania in environmental stewardship, educating about the impact of our actions on the environment, and providing resources and solutions to maintain the integrity of the Northeastern ecosystems. In doing so, we lean extensively on indigenous traditions.