Gerringong-based educator and outdoor learning expert Dr Amanda Lloyd has called on more Australian schools to embrace the outdoors.
Research conducted by Dr Lloyd shows students who take part in outdoor learning programs not only continue to perform well academically, they learn problem solving, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and resilience.
Further research commissioned by Planet Ark shows 77 per cent of teachers reported improvement in standardised test results, and exposure to natural environments reduces stress, enhances concentration and creativity and increases productivity.
‘’The recent inclusion of outdoor learning in the Australian Curriculum is a leap forward for future nature-based experiences within the school day,’’ Dr Lloyd said.
‘’For most children, the majority of time at school is spent inside a classroom sitting at a desk. It doesn’t have to be this way. All it takes is to think outside the box — no walls needed.’’
All it takes is to think outside the box — no walls needed.Dr Amanda Lloyd
The ‘Learning from Trees: Life Lessons for Future Generations’ report released ahead of National Tree Day (July 30), asked 200 Australian teachers to identify the crucial skills students will need most to tackle global challenges, such as climate change, in the future.
In order of importance teachers ranked STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); problem solving and critical thinking; creativity and innovation; compassion; ‘grit’ (determination, resilience, perseverance); emotional intelligence and trade skills.
Research cited in the report shows how children can develop these key skills by learning outdoors, both during and outside of school hours.
Dr Lloyd, director of Outdoor Connections, said providing opportunities for outdoor learning is a critical priority for parents, teachers and the wider community.
But this is a significant challenge ‘’because children have lost touch with nature in a way that has never been experienced before’’, with Planet Ark research showing only one in 10 children spend more time playing outdoors than indoors.
National Tree Day manager Debbie Agnew said simple activities like riding bikes or going for a bushwalk were some ways parents, teachers and carers can imbed nature time in a child’s life.
Almost 20 schools in the Wollongong LGA have registered to take part in the Schools Tree Day on July 28.