Outdoor Classroom Day – 23rd May 2024

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day. On this day, and again on 7th November, teachers are encouraged to take their children outdoors to play and learn. All year round, the Outdoor Classroom Day community campaigns for more time outdoors every day.

We strongly believe in the benefits of providing Outdoor Classrooms.  To support this, we are supporting Carly at our Gatley setting in her studies towards the Level 3 Certificate for Forest School Leaders.  This qualification will equip Carly to become a Forest School Leader, able to set up and run a Forest School programme. Level 3 covers how to facilitate groups in a learner-centred way, and how to manage a Forest School site sustainably.

The Outdoor Classroom movement was founded as children are spending less time outdoors than ever before and this is affecting their health, wellbeing and development. Time outdoors makes children – and adults – happier and healthier, as well as equipping them with the skills they need for life.

The Forest School philosophy provides a way of working with children in an outdoor environment:

  1. It is an ethos that promotes self-esteem, creativity, confidence and independence.
  2. It is a series of long-term sessions that build on the needs and development of the child. It is not one-off days in the woods.
  3. It enables supported risk-taking, child-centred learning, exploration and play.
  4. It works in a variety of settings and is not exclusive to a wooded setting.

Research was undertaken to assess the impact of Forest Schools.  These are some of the results:

  • Confidence: children had the freedom, time and space to learn and demonstrate independence
  • Social skills: children gained increased awareness of the consequences of their actions on peers through team activities such as sharing tools and participating in play
  • Communication: language development was prompted by the children’s sensory experiences
  • Motivation: the outdoor setting fascinated the children and they developed a keenness to participate and the ability to concentrate over longer periods of time
  • Physical skills: these improvements were characterised by the development of physical stamina and gross and fine motor skills
  • Knowledge and understanding: the children developed an interest in the natural surroundings and respect for the environment

In addition, as our article on Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 set out, moving around in nature has a significant impact on our wellbeing.