It’s without a doubt that outdoor learning makes a lot of impact in improved student performance. When children are able to move around freely, explore nature, and discover ideas even outside their four-walled classrooms, they become more engaged in their lessons — even committed to the very discipline of learning.
It’s important then for school administrators to prioritise outdoor learning spaces. If you’re taking on a revamp soon in your campus, pay attention to these elements:
These design features are often overlooked precisely because their purpose is underestimated — they’re only mere walkways. The reality is, students often find meaningful interaction in corridors, hallways, stairs, or the in-betweens of buildings. That means there’s learning happening in such spaces as well.
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking these facilities. Take a good look at them and see if they’re highly accessible to students. Corridors and hallways should always be free of clutter. Stairs should be wheelchair-friendly. Pathways between buildings shouldn’t have trip hazards or overgrown plants. They must provide shade, so high-quality walkway covers for schools are necessary. It’s crucial that they’re wide enough as well to accommodate throngs of students. The bottom line is your priority for pathways is accessibility.
Flexible spaces are also a must. This means outdoor classrooms shouldn’t just be used for holding classes only, but also for meeting fellow schoolmates after class, arranging different org activities, promoting reading, gardening, or painting, and many more. This way, your outdoor classroom becomes a site for physical, social, and emotional learning. It taps into different talents and skills. Use pergolas, canopies, and shelters as outdoor classrooms.
Bring in flexible furniture and fixtures to achieve versatility in the space. You can go for retractable walls, writable surfaces, adjustable chairs and desks, and storage sofas and couches. It’s also worth looking into your existing structures and evaluating how you can improve further their flexibility. For instance, the picnic tables outside your cafeteria probably can use some shades so they could also serve as informal classroom seating and desks.
Play is a huge part of the learning process. It offers a mental break, improves physical health, and encourages socialisation. All these are important elements in making students more receptive to their lessons. For your existing play area, prioritise safety and inclusivity.
Swings, for instance, should come in different sizes and shapes to accommodate different children’s ages. Climb equipment should also be varied in heights. Trampolines must be surrounded by soft landings.
If you want to add more play zones, use natural materials, like mini hedge mazes or tree houses. These structures can tap different kinds of play. Active play, as kids run and figure out the life-size puzzle. Imaginative play, as they take on roles when playing house. Reflective play, as they rest, relax, and daydream. Involve your students in creating and designing these structures, if possible. This will ensure that they would maximise the use of it later.
Again, outdoor learning is indispensable to your students’ academic journey. As much as possible, prioritise these spaces as you revamp your campus environment.