Celebrating Outdoor Classroom Day
Over the last few decades growing fears about children’s safety (ie. increased levels of traffic, increased perception of child abduction etc.) have led adults to limit their access to outdoors.
Alongside this cultural shift has been a growing interest in media equipment, e.g. TV, DVDs, computer games, contributing to a society where many children live sedentary lives, with few opportunities to access outdoor spaces.
Playing outside is central to a child’s development and their enjoyment of childhood, creating lasting childhood memories. There are “strong links to improved attention and concentration, increased productivity and learning, better behaviour, and more positive relationships between adults and children”. (Nursery World, 2017).
Outdoor Classroom Day - Its History
In 2012 a handful of schools in London celebrated outdoor learning as part of a new campaign, which they called ‘Empty Classroom Day’. The campaign had been conceived in 2011, by Anna Portch, with the support of teachers and educators at London Sustainable Schools Forum (LSSF).
The initiative grew and by 2015 more than 600 schools in 15 countries had become involved. Impressed by its success marketing giant Unilever joined the campaign, its Persil Team providing a ‘Dirt is Good’ workforce to help take the movement global, in partnership with the social enterprise Project Dirt.
This year more than 345,000 children in 52 countries signed up to take part in the initiative, which has been re-named ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’, 150,000 of these in the UK.
Outdoor Classroom Day raises awareness of the benefits of outdoor play:
“The real aim of Outdoor Classroom Day is to inspire the world by letting children and adults experience the true benefits of outdoor learning and play ... No matter where you are in the world, learning outdoors will help children focus, it will boost their creativity and enhance their imagination – and it’s also more fun! Whether it’s play, maths, music, science, art, drama or a language – being outdoors makes learning truly memorable and adds to the enjoyment of childhood.” (Hollyhock, J, 2017).
Otte, J. Join in Outdoor Classroom Day 2017. Nursery World.(April 2017)
Taking Part. Why You Should Join In On Outdoor Classroom Day. Nursery World.
Hollyhock, J. Chief Executive, Learning through Landscapes. (April 2017).
Outdoor Learning and Play. Learning through Landscapes.
National Childbirth Trust. Importance of Outdoor Play Activities for Kids
Benefits for Early Years of Learning Outside the Classroom. Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (Crown Copyright 2009).
Into the Woods Outdoor Nursery
Outdoor Matters. The Early Years Foundation Stage. Effective Practice: Outdoor Learning (Crown Copyright 2007)