The outdoors can offer a window into better mental and physical wellbeing, and those benefits can be put to use in the educational setting. According to Psychology Today, there are numerous benefits to outdoors education, from cognitive and wellbeing benefits to observed enhanced rates of learning. The tranquility and intrigue of nature dovetails well with learning material, helping to bed in learning. One thing that Psychology Today noted, however, is the heightened safety risk at present in nature, and the fact that many students take greater risks in those environments, inspired by nature – as such, it’s crucial to first make the environment safe.
The outdoors does present physical safety risks, and those risks aren’t often as well controlled as indoors. Rough ground, plants, rocks and water can all create hazards. There’s also the matter of outdoor hazards, as the CDC highlights, including weather both warm or too cold. One way to tackle this is through a set staging area. Creating a central hub near an educational facility, or where land has been accessed for continuous learning, and then setting up the outdoor space in a safe way, such as through the use of artificial turf, creates a safe haven. This also creates a fallback, where educators can return students to a more stable environment.
Minimizing the hazards
The point of outdoor education is to get into the wild, however, and that’s where the fun and real learning can begin. There are always going to be risks posed by the rest of the public; one survey, conducted by the American Camp Association, highlights drivers as key among that. Bad drivers, or those engaging in offroad sports, can damage natural areas and harm educational opportunities. The key is in preparation – choose areas that are used mainly for walking groups, and check local reviews and guides to ensure it’s a safe route. You cannot totally account for outside factors, but taking every reasonable step is only fair for you and your students.
Enjoying it properly
With safety out of the way, it’s important that the outdoors space is used in a way that is constructive and leads to good educational outcomes. Take regular breaks in the space to help bed in learning – encourage students to consider what they’ve been taught while enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and wildlife around. Even just sitting quietly and listening to the natural sounds of a green area can help to create a sense of peace that’s conducive to high-quality and long lasting learning.
Nature provides the perfect backdrop to learning. It produces benefits that will last long in the memory for students, helping learning to be a permanent rather than transient process. With the world more high-paced and stressful than ever, this isn’t something to take for granted.