…..So why not plan to incorporate your very own springwatch into this term’s lesson plan, and kick off the New Year with a commitment to teaching more in the Great Outdoors?
Already the days are drawing out and January is almost over. Whilst spring does not officially begin until March, nature’s early starters are heralding its approach. Snowdrop blooms and bluebell shoots are emerging and will be closely followed in a few weeks’ time by the hazel’s catkins. The birds are just beginning to give voice to their songs and will increasingly embark upon building their nests, in preparation for the emergence of hibernating insect life with which to feed their young. Within another month, frogs and toads will be spawning as the days and hours of sunlight grow ever longer, which will encourage growth and greenery everywhere. The opportunities for science, art, literacy and maths learning are almost unbounded in this busiest of seasons, although all weather gear will need to donned for some time to come!
We at The Learning Escape are firm believers in the power of being outside amongst nature and exposed to natural daylight. Sunlight is good for our physical health as it increases the production of vitamin D; helps to regulate our circadian rhythms and sleep patterns and improves visibility, making it possible to perform tasks faster and more accurately. Mentally, it is known to boost the mood of children and staff alike. However, perhaps more importantly, a good blast of fresh air and sunlight improves behaviour, particularly in regard to concentration, making for a better classroom experience once back inside. Conversely, prolonged exposure to artificial lighting is associated with protracted, high levels of cortisone, the hormone associated with stress. Amongst the negative effects of an extended elevation of cortisone levels, are raised blood pressure, a depressed immune system and impaired cognitive performance.
So, taking lessons outside is incredibly good for physical and mental health, concentration and behaviour, and it is a useful tool with which to rejuvenate lesson plans. If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of outdoor learning, you might like to take a look at our Whitepaper “The Outdoor Environment” or, for older children, ”The Outdoor Environment for Secondary Students”. You will also find lesson plans and videos, and for further inspiration, pay a visit to the Nature Detectives website which has a host of suggestions for outdoor learning at all times of the year.