Mental Health Mondays
The Importance of an Outdoor Learning Environment
Outdoor learning and play environments with diverse natural elements advance and enrich all of the domains relevant to the development, health, and well-being of young children. Just some of the benefits of natural outdoor play and learning environments include:
- Improved self-regulation
- Advanced physical fitness and gross motor development
- Improved nutrition
- Improved eyesight
- Enhanced cognitive development
- Improved academic performance
- Decreased symptoms of ADHD
- Improved concentration
- Bolstered self-confidence
- Enhanced understanding of ecosystems, food systems, and environmental processes
School districts across the United States are facing unprecedented challenges as they transition from online learning to in-person instruction and seek new strategies to meet the COVID-19 physical distancing and fresh air requirements that will allow students to return to campus. Utilizing enriching outdoor spaces is an effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classroom instruction while providing fresh air, hands-on learning, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.
Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy has identified 5 key areas that are critical in helping children build future success:
- Build positive relationships with adults and peers
- Use nature to nurture
- Create diverse spaces and activities
- Foster safety and support
- Enhance accessibility and inclusion
Duke University’s research validates what Lucy Daniels Center’s thirty years of experience has revealed to us: that the language of children is play, and that we can best support healthy emotional development by providing spaces where this play can flourish, and relationships can be strengthened.
As we transition from online learning to in-person instruction, we can support healthy emotional development in children by providing enriching outdoor spaces where children can explore, restore, connect and thrive.
Lucy Daniels Center has begun the process of creating a new Outdoor Learning Environment that will provide safe, engaging, and healing outdoor spaces for children at Lucy Daniels School.