Because few things stick in a kid's head more than a lesson taught outside.
Today is Outdoor Classroom Day, which means that more than one million children around the world will leave their desks for a few hours and spend the day playing and learning outside. This day is an opportunity to recognize the value of nature play and its lasting benefits for children.
Sadly, outdoor play is often neglected by parents and educators, seen as an afterthought or an inconvenience after a full schedule of extracurricular activities has been accomplished. Public schools have not made it a priority. Did you know there’s no standardized policy for outdoor recess? Only fifteen of 50 states recommend or say it’s mandatory.
Parents aren’t doing much, either. Many are too busy to supervise, afraid to let their kids go alone, or they just don’t think it’s important. Less than 7 percent of kids under age 10 in the United States are allowed outside alone. Less than two in 5 American kids visit a creek, beach, or park on a weekly basis.
We’ve reached the tragic point where 74 percent of kids in the States spend less time outside (<30 minutes) than the two hours recommended daily for prison inmates. It’s mind-boggling to think that one aspect of our children’s lives is, arguably, worse off than inmates at a maximum-security jail!
Outdoor Classroom Day intends to be an antidote to this, inspiring teachers to explore outdoor learning and, ideally, make it a part of their regular teaching program. From the press release:
“From den-building and bioblitzing, to practicing maths with stones and reading under trees, the day will see teachers take at least one class outdoors and help children embrace their nearby natural environment.”
The website has resources and lesson plans to help teachers keep kids entertained outdoors, though I suspect that once those kids are given free range outside, they’ll be utterly content to do their own thing, learning and absorbing all the while. Teachers, parents, and volunteers can connect on social media, sharing pictures and ideas using #OutdoorClassroomDay.
“The campaign is highlighting that not only does time outdoors improve children's health, wellbeing and happiness, it also gives them a strong connection to the natural world; a connection that is crucial if the next generation are to be the future guardians of our planet.”
If you live in North America, it's not too late to sign up and join in the fun! Or do so unofficially, but get those kids outside.