Adolescent Development Enhanced by Outdoor Learning

             As children continue to spend large amounts of time indoors behind screens for both their educational and recreational time, the effects of this lifestyle is becoming increasingly clear. Research conducted by Plymouth University in the UK warns of the long-term individual risks of keeping children indoors; such as, restricting the development of adolescents’ social skills, inhibiting physical development, and negatively influencing emotional well-being. Expectations on academic achievement continue to rise and pressure teachers to keep children in the classroom.

            Currently, if there is any outdoor learning it is due to teachers recognizing the importance of these experiential learning components. Outcomes of outdoor learning were broken into five main themes:

  1. Development of a healthy and happy body and mind.
  2. Cultivation of a sociable and confident
  3. Creation a self-directed creative learner.
  4. Becoming an effective contributor to social circles and society.
  5. Enlightening youth to be an active global citizen.

Teachers strive to attain these outcomes daily in classrooms across the nation. Understanding that outdoor learning may be integrated, rather than interrupt, the daily learning experience is the next step toward a change in administrative mindset. Additional researchers must collaborate and work with educational policy makers and programmers to construct curricula that incorporate experiential outdoor learning, which will be instrumental in shaping the future of the next generation.

Malone, K. and Waite, S. (2016) Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling. Plymouth: Plymouth University. Available online: http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/oelres-net

 

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