Minister gets her hands dirty for Outdoor Classroom Day

2nd November 2018

Yesterday marked the return of Outdoor Classroom Day; the global campaign which calls on millions of children around the world to get outdoors and prioritise outdoor learning and play.

This year, nearly 550,000 children across the UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) registered to ditch their desks for the school grounds, with nearly 3.5 million signed up around the world.

In celebration, Scottish Government Minister for Children and Young People – Ms Todd – visited Early Years children at Happy Days nursery in Dalkeith to join them for the outdoor initiative.

Ms Todd joined the children as they took part in den building, storytelling and scooter races.

Ms Todd said:

“Many Early Years settings already have a great reputation for spending time outdoors, and this time is vital in developing children’s relationship with nature, particularly within their local greenspaces.

“I see first-hand how fragile an eco-system we are living in, particularly in the highlands where I grew up. Here in Scotland, we’re passionate about changing that; and being a small country, we have a huge opportunity to influence real change and have a positive impact on the Scottish landscape.

“We are dedicated to making time spent outdoors a key part of learning in Scotland and have some fantastic pilot schemes running right now that are looking into the various ways we can make this a reality.”

Throughout the day, children aged from as young as three months right through until 12 years got to grips with the muddy nursery grounds, showing that time spent outside is loved whatever the weather.

A ten year old member of the nursery said:

“There’s so much more to do when we are outside and it’s a lot more fun. We get to see spiders, insects and other cool creatures that we don’t get to see indoors.

“My favourite thing to do outdoors is climb in the trees and sit on the branches. When you get to the top it’s so high that you get to hide away.

“I wish we did more lessons outdoors; there’s loads of space to do fun things and the time goes super quickly.” 

The campaign arrived as Learning through Landscapes, the lead NGO for Outdoor Classroom Day across the UK and ROI, and Project Dirt released a new report revealing that without even more children and young people gaining real-world outdoor experiences, they would not be prepared for the future and to tackle the world’s biggest problems like climate change.

The “Muddy Hands” report suggests that children who spent more time playing and learning outdoors:

  • Understand and care for the environment more
  • Are less stressed, and more able to cope with being a teenager and later in life
  • Are more physically active, healthier – and come to school more often
  • Are more creative, can focus their attention better and have better fine motor skills
  • Are happier

The report – which includes the first global survey of this scale asking schools about their attitudes towards, and practice, supporting outdoor play and learning – is made up of data collected between 2017 and 2018 as well as a wide selection of literature on outdoor learning and play.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Speaking of the findings, Carley Sefton – CEO of Learning through Landscapes – said:

“I often hear people say “not everything can be cured by going outside”; my response is, no, but it can absolutely help.

 “We know that more time outdoors has been proven time and again to impact learning, health, wellbeing and that all important connection to the natural world.

“If children know their planet and truly understand it, then they will want to protect it.

 “That way, not only are we combatting mental health by getting children outdoors more, we’re also addressing global citizenship.”

Getting children outdoors more can start with Outdoor Classroom Day. Teachers can still register their class – or whole school – on the website to get involved during the first week of November. For those who have already taken part in Outdoor Classroom Day and are excited to take part again next year, you can sign up straight away at www.outdoorclassroomday.org.uk

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Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!

Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

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