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Learning outside the classroom can help with Special Education Needs
Working in a natural environment can benefit children of all ages and abilities. More schools are now seeing how learning outside the classroom can help children with SEN explore the world around them.
A survey conducted by TeacherVoice on behalf of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) stated that 70 per cent of teachers have seen that LOtC is “more effective than classroom teaching in motivating and enthusing children with regard to learning.” Not only does LOtC help children form a link between what they are learning and the world around them, they are also being motivated, becoming more attentive and noticeably improving their behaviour.
Many schools have shown how outdoor learning is effective for children who struggle within the traditional classroom environment and now more are beginning to see the benefits of LOtC for children with SEN. Outdoor learning offers pupils a brand new experience, a way of learning through doing. This is something that is particularly beneficial for children with SEN and gives them the opportunity to fully reach their potential.
Outdoor classrooms that are developed to reflect the natural environment and create a connection between the classroom and playground can provide children with SEN this experience. Sensory activities within an outdoor classroom give those with learning difficulties a focus for exploring the world around them first-hand. The classroom can act as a base for practicing life skills such as safety, cooking and cleaning. By creating a flexible outdoor learning space, schools can also practice skills for life that will eventually take place further afield. Role-playing going to the shops, a restaurant or the doctors can all take place within the school grounds but in an environment that feels separate to the traditional classroom.
When designing an SEN classroom suitable for outdoor learning it is important to consider the accessibility of the space. Attractive, inclusive buildings that the children have helped design can give them a sense of empowerment and responsibility. It can become a facility with its own independence that still has a strong link to the main school building. Every school is unique and that’s why it’s beneficial to create a completely bespoke building that will make LOtC simple and accessible all year round.
Learning outside the classroom is now seen as an essential part of the curriculum by Ofsted and schools are encouraged to integrate LOtC into their daily routine. The LOtC accreditation for schools highlights educational establishments which recognise and support the development of LOtC across the curriculum. It also helps schools, that do not already have LOtC in place, find the support to create an accessible, inspiring outdoor space. To find out more visit: http://www.lotc.org.uk.
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