The outdoor classroom is not a new phenomenon. Educators around the world have been practicing it for years. In fact, there is a long tradition of outside learning that includes Waldorf schools and open-air lectures by Aristotle and other ancient philosophers.
At BREEF the ocean is our classroom. We have always believed that incorporating outdoor education with a traditional classroom is beneficial, as it improves kids’ health, gives children a love and appreciation for nature, improves personal child development and provides practical experience. Most of our programmes are outdoors and we see these benefits firsthand.
In this new climate of social distancing, educators across the globe are moving towards the outdoor classroom. Scientists believe that the transmission of Covid-19 is less likely to occur outdoors as the infected droplets disperse faster in fresh air. Studies have also shown that sun and wind can help reduce the presence of viable viruses on surfaces.
As we all search for a new normal, BREEF would like to encourage everyone to find ways to incorporate outdoor learning into their routine. Although the beaches are only open a few hours each day, here are a few ideas to incorporate outdoor activities into your homeschool curriculum:
- Let’s put our feet in the sand – Write a descriptive story about being on the beach from the perspective of your feet. What do your feet see, feel, enjoy, about being on the beach and in the water?
- Go on a scavenger hunt – There are many resources available online with quick scavenger hunt lists. Make a game of it and see how many items on the list they can find in an hour.
- Let’s take a walk – Kids are missing the outside. Sometimes a quick walk on the beach is all they need to catch a second wind and it promotes exercise.
- Discover your neighborhood on a drive – Are there any historical landmarks nearby? How far is it between the house and the beach? Is it faster if we go by bike or by car? How many miles did we travel? Can we convert that to km?
- Channel your inner artist – Have your child draw pictures of fish they may see while swimming or a beautiful tree on the beach. BREEF has waterproof fish slates for sale that you can use to name animals you may see on your beach excursion.
- Relax – Sometimes the best thing for a busy child (and parent) is to rest. What better way than to rest on the beach!
These are just a few ideas. If you are interested in more resources please check out our website https://breef.org/index.php/free-education-resources/
For more land based resources, check out this guide to nature-based classrooms provided by the North American Association for Environmental education.
Outdoor education is certainly at the heart of what we do at BREEF. We believe that once a child can experience nature, they are more likely to protect it.