There is continued and exciting research that proves education in an outdoor environment is beneficial for children. An outdoor classroom provides a permanent space where outdoor lessons can take place on a regular basis without leaving the school grounds. While new curriculum that aligns to nature and the outdoors is beneficial, there is no need to create new lessons for this environment to be meaningful. Just being outside provides children with opportunities to experience fresh air and open space, while improving performance. Research has documented increases standardized test scores, enhanced attitude about school, improved in-school behavior, improved attendance, and overall enhanced student achievement when students learn in nature.
A dedicated outdoor classroom provides an area for unique hands-on lessons. This could include art projects, experiments, or loud musical lessons that can't be conducted inside. It could also extend learning in meaningful ways. According to the National School Board Association, Barnard Elementary School in Washington, D.C., is an example of a school that has successfully integrated outdoor activities into its curriculum, When Principal Grace Reid realized that students lacked knowledge about where their food came from, she helped build an herb and vegetable garden, providing experiences for authentic learning. As a result, students are more willing to try new foods and choose healthier options, and Principal Reid has applied for grants to help teachers make outdoor education a part of their lesson plans.
Outdoor classrooms are also an ideal solution for schools that need to expand their current classroom space and maximize the use of their school grounds. As class sizes increase, outdoor classrooms provide the extra space needed without having to extend the school and cause a significant amount of disruption. The opportunity to learn outdoors can also potentially give children who find it difficult to concentrate or engage inside an alternative option. Installing an outdoor classroom area is something that all schools should seriously consider, given all the notable benefits that it could bring to the education of their students.