Kara Vickery, The Courier-Mail
August 27, 2017 10:01am
TEACHERS are being urged to hold more classes outdoors to boost children’s physical activity, with more than 500 schools signing a pledge to host lessons outside.
Nature Play QLD will today reveal that 553 schools have vowed to hold classes outdoors on September 7 as part of the state’s first Outdoor Classroom Day.
Nature Play program manager Hyahno Moser said it was hoped the event — which will involve more than 49,000 students in 2172 classes — would prompt schools to make outside lessons part of their regular curriculum.
“Outdoor play and outdoor learning stimulates the brain and activates it to a capacity that sitting down in a classroom just can’t do,” he said.
“Students who go outside, their brains are lit up and they are so prepared to learn when they come back inside.”
Mr Moser said modern children spent too much time indoors, with research showing 85 per cent of Australian kids spent less than two hours a day playing outside.
“Kids today are spending an increasing amount of time engaged in sedentary activities, and what we are seeing now is a reduction in the kids’ drive and interest to go outside and play,” he said. “That is going to have a direct impact on their capacity to learn.”
Payne Road State School’s director of outside school hours care, Suzie Berkhert, said the Brisbane school regularly held outdoor lessons and found they improved children’s behaviour.
“The benefits of it have been really powerful,” she said. “We have noticed the kids think much more independently, and they are certainly able to be challenged more by their play, which makes them excited.
“They are lots more active when they are outdoors. It’s really great for their healthy development and enjoyment of childhood.”
Tamborine Mountain State School principal Jason Smith said outdoor classes were a big part of the school’s curriculum.
“Outdoor Classroom Day is a way to teach our students traditional lessons in a non-traditional setting and improve not only their learning but enhance critical life skills, such as creativity, resilience and teamwork,” he said.
“Children may struggle to sit and engage for extended periods within the classroom, but watch their behaviour change when you take lessons outside.”