Is your classroom set-up to promote optimal student learning? Stand-up desks, wobble chairs, whiteboard tables, etc. are all being used to encourage students to take control of their learning. R. S. McLaughlin is taking this concept one step further and designing an outdoor space specifically to improve student achievement and engagement, while reducing anxiety and improving mental health and well-being.
There is no question that integrating digital practices into the school system is vital to drive student achievement and support equitable outcomes for all students. However, the amount of time children and teens spend outdoors is dropping dramatically and evidence points to a correlation between this reduction and an increase in anxiety and depression. A simple Google search will display many studies and articles showing natural environments can positively affect mood and learning.
Adam Campbell and Deb Flintoff, teachers at R. S. McLaughlin, have come up with a plan to address these issues. A sanctuary is being created in the courtyard that will allow students to integrate technology and nature. Scientific research-based practices will be used to design an outdoor space specifically to foster student learning, health and well-being. It will include theatre-style seating for a class-like setting, where teachers could bring students for lessons. Most importantly however, it will be designed and made with items found in nature.
The construction of this outdoor learning space is expected to begin this school year and staff at R.S. Mclaughlin CVI are excited to see the impact it will have on reducing stress levels and improving self-regulation.
Are you interested in doing something similar? Check out Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, they have created many outdoor learning spaces specifically designed to promote health and wellness.
*photo used with permission from Bienstock Natural Playgrounds