Remember when it was the end of the school year with summer vacation right around the corner? Sitting inside the classroom at your desk, swinging your feet back and forth, itching to get outside and play? And then the teacher said, “Let’s have class outside for an hour this afternoon,” and you couldn’t believe it! She ushered everyone into a line, your heart beating wildly and your little feet shuffling back and forth. You couldn’t wait to plop down on the soft, warm grass and listen to your teacher read a story. Under her arm she held just one book and you secretly hoped that she would just read one story and then let you run around with your friends, enjoying the warm sun on your bare arms.
If there was ever a word to describe this feeling it is freedom. And, as a homeschool mom, you can give your kids (aka students) this sense of freedom right in your backyard, at the local park, or anywhere else where learning and outdoors collide.
In other words, get outside and learn! Whether you take your math class outside by counting the trees, flowers, birds or airplanes or science, by studying the life thriving around you, you’re guaranteed to see your students thrive as well. Here are three tips for taking your class outside.
1. Plan Ahead
Being spontaneous is a great freedom trait, but so is planning ahead. By letting your students know when, where, and why they are having class outside, they know what to expect. And giving kids expectations (where you set the rules) will help them prosper. Planning ahead will also avoid wasted time.
2. Use Outside Class as a Reward
Use outside class as part of a reward system. For example, when your students have achieved certain milestones you have set and it’s time to reap the rewards, offer outside class as one of the reward choices. Be clear about what constitutes an outdoor class session. It’s also ok to give added outdoor play as part of a reward – and a nice break for you, too!
3. Field Trips
Getting out of the classroom by going on an outdoor field trip really exposes your students to the world. If you live near a beach, go collect and classify seashells. If you live in the desert, go for a hike to lean about different kinds of cacti. If you live in the city, visit an outdoor aquarium or zoo to learn about the different animals that inhabit our planet. Finish off the field trip over the next day or two with writing assignments or by using other measurement tools such as worksheets. Either way, let your students know what the assignment is before heading outdoors on an exciting field trip.
All in all, getting your students outdoors really gets them excited. By planning ahead and setting realistic goals and expectations for outdoor learning, you give your students the freedom to explore the world around them using all five senses. Outdoor learning, when done right, is one of the best ways to get your students actively learning.