Source:University of Plymouth
Outdoor learning can have a significant and positive impact on children’s quality of life but needs to be introduced more formally into the school curriculum in order for its potential benefits to be fully realized, a new report suggests.
The report, published today, identifies a framework showing how governments could build on existing and current research and introduce outdoor learning as an integral element of national education policies.
Over the past 10 years, there have been five significant reviews focused on children learning in natural environments in the UK and abroad. This is at a time when there is evidence that childhoods are dramatically changing, and children are experiencing limited opportunities to be outdoors in formal or informal learning settings, with consequent negative effects.
The framework it proposes includes pathways to research informed practice designed to generate five key outcomes for children: a healthy and happy body and mind; a sociable confident person; a self-directed creative learner; an effective contributor; an active global citizen.
Professor Karen Malone, from Western Sydney University’s Centre for Educational Research, said as the amount of evidence on the benefit of learning in natural environments on health and wellbeing continues to mount, the question is, is it enough to persuade policy makers to come on board?
She said: “This report maps the evidence to encourage researchers and policy makers to meet at the interface of research and policy in order to shape a positive future for our children. While the report was funded and supported by agencies in the UK, the lessons learnt resonate for most high income nations around the world, particularly in Australia, where the political landscape and its impact on funding for programs in schools for outdoor learning are comparable. The report should be taken up and read widely by researchers, educators and policy makers connected to the field of outdoor education, health and physical education and sustainability and environmental education.”