Whether your child is struggling with the traditional classroom environment, or you simply hope to expand their knowledge, learning outside the classroom is a great way to breathe new life into their education. While classroom-based learning is often theoretical and based on repetition, outdoors-based learning is more experiential and hands-on by nature. If this sounds like something that may help your child’s education, PuckerMom.com invites you to read on for fun ways to take the classroom to the outdoors.
Find nature in your own backyard.
To get started, you needn’t look further than your own backyard. Using the outdoors as a classroom has many known benefits, such as improving students’ physical and emotional well-being and increasing their motivation to learn. The lesson plan doesn’t need to be complicated for your child to benefit from learning outside the classroom. If an arts and crafts project is on the agenda, try setting up an outdoor painting station or going on a photography shoot in your neighborhood. There are many ways you can get creative with outdoor art projects.
Nature is also the perfect classroom for the sciences and can be a great setting to encourage your child’s engagement with their education. Observing wildlife in your neighborhood (such as insects, birds, and squirrels) and recording what they find can be a great way to study biology, as well as planting a garden. For chemistry, you could use baggies and common household compounds to observe chemical reactions. For budding geologists, create a fun (and messy) fizzy volcano.
If you decide to use your backyard as a classroom and intend to use tablets to supplement those lessons, make sure that your internet connection is up to the task. If your internet is spotty, then you may have trouble keeping a strong connection, which can derail even the most thrilling of educational opportunities. So, look into packages that offer great reliability and plenty of bandwidth to ensure that you never lose connection — and your children’s attention! Some packages that are designed for gamers offer the type of reliability and connectivity you need to ensure that your devices always stay connected!
Take creative field trips.
When you’re ready to venture further from home, it’s time to plan a creative field trip. Children thrive on novelty and are naturally curious, so they’ll likely be motivated to learn in a new environment. Just be sure that the places you choose to visit are kid-friendly and relevant to their education.
When planning field trips, consider honing in on areas where your child shows natural ability or keen interest. For example, if your child is a bookworm, take a tour of your public library and talk with librarians. If you’ve got a little scientist on your hands, consider taking him or her on a guided tour of a laboratory. You can also make history come alive by visiting a historical site or museum. If you’re not able to leave home, there are also plenty of stimulating virtual tours and “trips” you can take online. There are many virtual tours available from numerous museums from around the world, allowing you and your children to explore countries and cultures that may otherwise be unattainable. Of course, this is another area where a good internet connection will come in handy!
Prepare for the conditions.
Don’t be discouraged if the weather doesn’t cooperate every day (it won’t). You and your child will both gain resilience by braving the conditions and continuing with outdoor learning when the weather is uncomfortable. That said, you can make sure you’re as comfortable as possible by planning ahead and preparing for the conditions in your area.
As the Scandanavian saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Consider investing in waterproof jackets, proper footwear, and sun protection. Learn to properly layer your clothing so that you and your child can adjust to changing weather, and choose material like merino wool over cotton if you can as it won’t cause chills when wet. By encouraging your child to adapt to the outdoors and meet discomfort head-on, you’re teaching a real-world skill that they couldn’t acquire in the classroom.
Learning in the outdoors isn’t just good for your child academically; it can also benefit him or her physically and emotionally. Best of all, it can be fun for both teacher and student. By finding nature in your backyard, planning creative field trips, and preparing for the weather conditions, you’ll be well-equipped to take your child’s education outside the classroom.