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Why are playgrounds important and what makes a great playground?
Now is a perfect time to consider what new activities and ways of learning you can add to your classes over the school year to promote enthusiasm for school, encourage learning and help make school a happy, productive environment for kids.
Government research indicates that children who spend more time outside learn better and have stronger physical and mental health.
So why not make the commitment to learning both inside and outside the classroom?
The benefits to scheduling regular outdoor classes include:
- Kids understand that learning occurs everywhere and is not just taking place at a traditional classroom desk
- Kids can anticipate and build excitement for their planned weekly outdoor class activity
- Students can gain a greater understanding and respect for the environment
- Group work and team-based activities lend themselves well to outdoor space and kids can practice their collaboration and teamworking skills in a new setting
- With the pitfalls of sedentary lifestyles becoming increasingly documented, incorporating regular structured outdoor learning into the day is an additional option to increase weekly activity levels.
How do you create an productive outdoor learning environment?
When taking learning outside, some children may on occasion or regularly become overexuberant at the prospect of going outside and a change from the familiar scenery. To ensure this doesn’t turn into disruptive or distracted behaviour, a great way to start off your outdoor learning is to set up a 5 minute walk to start the lesson. Each time children are required to follow a specific route and observe what’s new about their outdoor environment or consider a particular theme and then discuss it with the class on their return to the meeting point.
Having burned off a little pent up energy, children are then more likely to be ready to settle down at their specified outdoor area to complete the lesson.
Even though the outdoor class may have a regular schedule in the school week, it may be apt to endorse it as a bonus opportunity which has the potential to be lost if it is not given the respect it deserves. In such circumstances, specific rules and expectations associated with outdoor learning should be set and a commitment made to these at the start of the year.
To further maximise outdoor learning it is important to choose the right outdoor furniture for your outdoor space. This may vary with the weekly topic. In some weeks it may be beneficial to use seating to encourage interaction and team-building – for example, 4-sided pedestal park setting which maximises interaction. On other occasions the learning activity may benefit from a single line of seats to reduce the face-to-face communication so children can easily focus on watching and joining whole class activities rather than group setups. Thoughtful planning and flexibility of your outdoor space and furniture can become a strong contributor to the success of the learning experience.
Adequate shelter and shade
Having adequate shade and shelter especially in certain times of the year is paramount to outdoor learning. Undercover areas are key to protecting students and staff from the hot sun. It’s important to remember that you can still be affected by UV radiation, even in the shade. This is why it’s essential to take into account issues like reflective radiation, shade material and product lifespan when developing shaded areas. For the hot or wet seasons in the year, make sure you have the right sheltered space for your outdoor learning.
Durability and maintenance
If you are purchasing new outdoor furniture, ensure you select premium quality, long-lasting material that will withstand high usage, as well as resilience to the rain and heat erosion. Aluminium is perfect for outdoor furniture as it is strong, durable and won’t rust, warp or fade over time.
At Felton Industries we understand the demands of the Australian climate and as a wholly Australian owned and operated business, we have developed the highest quality outdoor solutions for schools. This means premium quality aluminium furniture, with safety at the heart of our design, alongside comfort, durability and a modern, practical approach. Our outdoor furniture is customisable, accessible and inclusive. So whether your school requires grandstand seating, shelters, tables and chairs or outdoor benches, we have the right solution for your unique needs.
If you would like any more information or assistance in setting up successful outdoor learning at your school, get in touch with our friendly team today.
Enjoy your learning and classes and make the most of your outdoors.
Need some research statistics on the benefits of outdoor classrooms and further information on why outdoor learning is an excellent choice for schools? Download our infographic on Outdoor Learning – Time to Get Outside