My fellow staff and I have recently had the opportunity to participate in professional learning through Nature Play Queensland.
This opened my eyes to the advantages of outdoor learning spaces. I learned that nature can be used as a flexible learning area. This is beneficial to my teaching and learning program. Students can spend more time working together and interacting positively with each other in nature.
There are many known benefits of students learning in nature. In my experience I found that children built resilience, increased their social skills of negotiation and cooperation with others around them as well as provided them with the “feel good” benefits of fresh air and green spaces.
Outdoor learning areas used in the flexible learning model have shown great benefits regarding classroom behaviour. Students have a voice in decisions on seating, and group and peer feedback on learning tasks in a relaxed and safe environment.
Mathematics lessons in nature can include measurement and geometry, chance and data. It can also include just working together during math investigations.
Outdoor learning areas are a natural space for the science curriculum. “Messy” experiments such as animal adaptation, space and push/pull can be done in these outdoor learning spaces.
English-based activities can benefit from group work sharing, presenting oral skits, or just finding a quiet space for silent reading.
Parents can help their children develop a love for nature at home. They can do this by getting children to ask questions about what they observe in nature. They can also use outdoor spaces for homework or other learning opportunities.
Children are natural scientists. They love to ask questions about their surroundings. Parents can encourage this curiosity in a positive way through exploring the nature which surrounds us.
Ivan Theron is a teacher at St Gerard Majella School, Woree