We all benefit from being outdoors!
It may surprise many people, but January is my busiest teaching month! This is because some schools make outdoor learning a priority during winter enrichment sessions.
This year, I get to take two schools out to Moody Park for learning each week along with 4 winter field days for other schools. We observe winter habitats, consider what makes a cozy winter home, create our own cozy homes, follow tracks and look for signs of active animals, and explain what they might have been doing based on our observations (evidence) and inferences. And of course, there is time for play. Running, jumping, sliding, making snow sculptures, etc. Smiles, laughter, and singing are sure signs that kids are having fun!
It excites me to bring so many students outdoors for learning this January (and all year long), because there are so many wellness and health benefits connecting to being outside in nature.
Here are a few benefits from The Children & Nature Network that are backed up by research:
Children [and adults] are happier, healthier and smarter when they connect with nature. Happier: Nature play increases self-esteem, improves psychological health and reduces stress. Children learn self-discipline and are more cooperative.
Healthier: Nature play improves physical conditioning, reduces obesity and mitigates other health risk factors. Smarter: Nature play stimulates creativity and improves problem solving. Children do better in school.
Daily exposure to natural settings is associated with children’s ability to focus and enhances cognitive abilities. (Wells)
Children are less stressed, more self-disciplined, and have better social relationships with access to—and even a view of—nature in their daily lives. (Kuo, Kuo and Sullivan)
Outdoor classrooms and nature-based education is associated with significant student gains in academic achievement. (American Institutes for Research)
The greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable and mitigated are their symptoms of Attention-Deficit Disorder. (Faber Taylor and Kuo)
Higher street tree density is associated with a lower prevalence of childhood asthma. (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health)
Higher levels of total time spent outdoors is associated with lower prevalence of myopia among twelve-year olds. (Opthamology)
Human health and well-being are inextricably linked to the health of the planet’s living systems. Direct experiences in nature nourish health, hope, creativity and compassion. So what are you waiting for? Get Outside and Learn!