A lot of ideas are being tossed around about what school will look like and how it will function once it resumes (hopefully) in the Fall. Part of the issue: can schools handle social distancing at school, if it’s still a recommendation? Scotland has one idea on how to maintain physical distancing, and we love it. They’re proposing moving the classroom outside.
Scotland already has some outdoor childcare centers or nurseries, many that have become childcare hubs for essential workers. Maree Todd, Scotland’s children minister, shared with The Guardian:
“This model could have many benefits for maintaining physical distancing and minimising risk of transmission as part of the transition from lockdown back into early learning and childcare and school.”
Risk of transmission is one big reason to consider outdoor learning. After all, when kids are outdoors, they’re more likely to spread out. Plus, there’s less sharing of toys, because there’s the outdoor world to play with and explore. In other words: there are less surfaces for the virus to live on.
But wait there’s even more reasons why this works so well. Many of the outdoor childcare centers in Scotland have a great routine in place. Kids each get their own bag of art supplies. They rotate snack and lunch time so the kids aren’t all eating at once. Hand washing is often encouraged hourly, too. There’s also more emphasis on play.
While less risk of infection is one big point for outdoor learning, it’s not the only reason we love this idea. The benefits of playing and learning outside are immense. Kids tend to be happier when they spend time outside. Studies have also shown improved eyesight; kids learn naturally about “risk assessment”; and they learn to build resilience — especially when the weather isn’t all sunshine.
Of course, implementing outdoor learning is not without challenges. We can’t simply move all traditional classrooms outside and expect teachers to teach the way they have in the past. Adjustments would need to be made, and educators would need to get used to a new way of teaching.
But Scotland isn’t the only country where outdoor learning has become more popular. New “forest schools” have been popping up regularly all over the United States. And they offer a wonderful alternative and a great model for what education can look like going forward.
What do you think about moving the classroom outside?
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