Learning 30 Nov 2016

PD on outdoor learning

By Geoff Upston, TK Counsellor
Photograph by CIS Communications

Creating engaging outdoor learning environments is an essential part of classroom learning. The October PD (Professional Development) led by Kenny Peavy focused on new and interesting ways of teaching students outside of the classroom. Both Lakeside and TK teachers participated in this active workshop that inspired teachers to get their students out of the classroom more often to engage inquiring young minds.

Kenny challenged teachers with a simple question: “If we are learning a concept inside the classroom, is there a way we can take the lesson outside for a richer learning experience?” He believes that in most cases, the answer to this question is yes.

Kenny referred to current research on the many benefits of outdoor learning. Benefits include encouraging children to be more active, healthy and fit, boosting creativity and improving cognitive functions. Recent studies suggest that outdoor learning environments calm children and help them focus, learn, and become more confident.

Another important component of the learning is establishing a strong partnership with parents who can be involved in different aspects of the outdoor learning and be a part of their children’s authentic learning experience.

Kenny encouraged teachers to get out of their comfort zones to offer students safe yet exciting learning opportunities. The Outdoor Discovery Centre (ODC) at Lakeside and soon-to-be-launched ODC at TK are great examples of outdoor learning spaces where learning happens in nature and authentic connections between theory and practice are made. It is an extension of the indoor classrooms that let students interact with nature to hone their math skills through water and mud play, experiment with new science concepts and reflect on their newfound learning.