Most adults will have treasured memories of splashing in muddy puddles and playing games in the local park. But today’s youngsters are leading far more enclosed lives. A recent study found that three-quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates.
This doesn’t just have a damaging impact on young people’s health – outdoor play increases fitness levels and raises levels of vitamin D, for example – there are also consequences for children’s educational development and wellbeing.
A growing body of evidence suggests that outdoor learning can boost children’s welfare and their performance at school. Research suggests that spending time interacting with nature can reduce stress among young people, and boost their creativity and problem-solving skills. A 2004 study indicated that students taking a part in an environment-based education programme reported increased levels of motivation.
There may also be untapped benefits for children with special educational needs: a small-scale research project in the US reported that contact with nature may reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder in children as young as five years old.
But with a jam-packed curriculum and limited access to nature, finding the time or space for outdoor learning can be a challenge. So, with exam season and better weather (hopefully) on the horizon, how can teachers make the most of outdoor learning? How can teachers in built-up urban areas ensure their students get their fair share of time outdoors? What resources or training is available for teachers who want to introduce nature-centred education? And how can teachers ensure time outside is well spent?
Join us to share your ideas, questions and experiences on outdoor learning. Our experts will be online during the time noted above, but comments are open now if you would like to post questions or suggestions in advance. You can also send questions for the panel by tweeting us @GuardianTeach or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.