Improving The Learning Experience
Learning outdoors in a garden-based educational setting can improve academic, social and emotional learning. It can also improve the general health of students and offer more opportunities for students to engage with one another as well as the immediate, natural environment.
Most importantly, experiences with nature enforce in students the fact that humans are part of a larger eco-system and we need to play our part.
Designated Outdoor Learning Areas
]Increasingly, schools are building designated outdoor learning areas, using clever design, natural materials and the immediate natural environment to ensure students feel comfortable and safe. The correct trees and plants can provide screens, filter light and provide shade outdoors. Planting indigenous organic plants also attract indigenous wildlife in the form of birds and insects. Avoid using chemical pesticides – encourage the local wildlife to control the pests in your garden. Find out what native plants attract wildlife that will protect your garden from pests.
Eco-friendly gardens are virtually maintenance free and require very little watering. Class projects can also include fruit, vegetable and herb gardens that can be supply linked to the school kitchen. Fields trips into unspoilt natural areas outside of the school should be encouraged.
Just Add Water…
Where possible try to include natural ponds and pools near your outdoor learning area. They attract wildlife and if a proper natural filtration system is deployed, the water can be recycled for watering other areas of the school ground.
If designed with prevailing wind conditions in mind, ponds and pools can have a natural cooling effect on your outdoor classroom effectively acting as a natural air-conditioner. Your learning area is generally a happier place is for pupils if they are exposed to nature from all visual angles which include water features.