Three reasons outdoor learning is beneficial for children

elementary students playing outside

School is a very different place than what today’s adults experienced. In this series of blogs, we examine the science behind a modern education and why it’s beneficial to your child.

When imagining a classroom, everyone likely has the same image in mind: a chalkboard, desks organized in neat rows, a teacher standing at the front dictating lessons, with small hands dutifully raised high.

But what happens when we expand this image? What happens when we shake up traditional classroom designs or even take the classroom outside?

Which is better, indoor or outdoor learning?

Both indoor and outdoor learning environments have unique advantages. A school that can provide both educational opportunities means children will get the most well-rounded education possible.

Is High School really preparing students for life? Find out here.

With indoor learning more conventional, many parents overlook the benefits of an outdoor classroom and how this learning environment can impact their child’s overall health and academic performance.

Below are three benefits of outdoor learning.

1. Outdoor learning leads to better grades

Research into the academic benefits of outdoor classrooms has come to a consensus that most students thrive in outdoor learning environments.

In his book Cognitive and Affective Learning in Outdoor Education, Dennis Eaton highlights research showing that students’ cognitive abilities developed more effectively in an outdoor learning environment than an indoor one.

Here at ISB, we are putting this research into practice.

For instance, we have a PreK courtyard playground for play-based and inquisitive development for our youngest students. We also have other outdoor learning facilities where children can develop fundamental skills for a successful future, like problem-solving, a sense of inquiry, a love for the environment, and more.

Our outdoor classrooms are just one of our many unique learning environments. Click here to find out more.

2. Outdoor learning leads to improved health

According to an article carried by doctor-reviewed website kidshealth, children should get about 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight per day in order to take in the required amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes bone and teeth strength specifically but it also contributes to healthy, full-body development in children. Most children and adults are vitamin D-deficient as we spend most of our time inside, but this is especially detrimental for children as they are still developing.

By spending more time outside, students get the vitamins they need as part of a healthy lifestyle, which in turn puts them in a better position to learn.

Another benefit of an outdoor learning environment is that it provides more space for physical activity. Also according to kidshealth, school-aged children should get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.

By including time in the curriculum for outdoor activities, children will see noticeable improvements in their academic performance as well as their overall health.

Outdoor learning spaces are a great environment for students to get the physical activity and vitamin D they need to stay healthy.

3. Outdoor learning helps decrease stress levels

One aspect of overall physical well-being is mental health. Research has shown that activities as simple as taking a walk in nature can have a positive effect on those dealing with anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health issues.

In order to achieve academic success, a student needs to be in the right state of mind to do so. Schools that provide outdoor spaces are considering all aspects of a child’s well-being.

In addition to this special learning environment, at ISB, we also empower our students with compassion and purpose through service learning opportunities, a world-class education, and getting the chance to work with high-quality teachers. 

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ISB teachers have been consulting with colleagues around the world on online learning, with insight and experience from the global learning community benefiting their students.