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The Benefits of Ample Outdoor Learning Space

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The Benefits of Ample Outdoor Learning Space

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fay Fifth Grade Morning Meeting

In a world where children are often glued to screens and cooped up indoors, we often strive to find ways to get them outside. It is no secret that children and adults are exposed to many positive benefits being outdoors. In a time consumed by social distancing, outdoor space is more valuable now than ever before.

The Washington Post, among many other sources, argues that kids do not spend nearly enough time outside while also highlighting the many benefits of outdoor time on children. Here are just a few:Fay Students talking about bugs in the Fay Forest!

  • Fosters Imagination and Creativity
  • Reduces Stress and Improves Mental Health
  • Teaches Responsible Risk-Taking
  • Improves Sleep
  • Helps Children Develop Gross Motor Skills
  • Improves Concentration
  • Teaches Cooperation

The Child Mind Institute outlines reasons why children need to spend time in nature, just as Parenting Science identifies twelve benefits of outdoor play. For years, everything has pointed to the need for children to leave the four walls they are often confined to, that rings true now more than ever. In a time where our lives are consumed with social distancing and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our outdoor spaces have become safe havens from the confines of quarantine. When it comes to schools reopening, these outdoor learning spaces will be critical.

Perhaps only now will other schools be forced to see for themselves the benefits of outdoor learning on students and teachers as they search for the safest ways to reopen their doors. Simply put, more outdoor space translates to more ways to spread students out on campus. Schools that can turn a field into an outdoor classroom can probably accommodate more students than a school that relies solely on indoor space. While it is possible to reopen without copious amounts of outdoor space, it will not be as easy as it is for schools who can grab the kids and head outside within the confines of campus.  

At The Fay School, we have just under three acres of pure forest, The Fay Forest, where students and teachers take their learning outside. Whether classes are measuring forest finds in math, working on a watercolor painting in art, doing a science experiment, or simply reading in the woods, the Fay Forest provides the ability for Fay students to continue learning in a safe, outdoor space. In addition to the Fay Forest, The Fay School also has ample space outdoors that we can easily use as classrooms and learning spaces. Nearly one-third of our campus is outdoor space, and we intend to utilize it! With some flexible seating and creativity, we are hopeful that our students will not only return to campus but that they will thrive with the increased time outside.  

Fay Forest ObstacleThe outdoor space available at The Fay School, and other schools across the world, will prove to be invaluable in the months ahead. The goal of educators today is to get our students back on campus so we can do what we do best, teach children. In a time where space is essential, we are eager to see how we can best use our outdoor environment to continue working on our vision of creating future leaders of the world.

About the Author: When Ali Lyman is not showing prospective families Fay’s amazing campus, Ali likes to spend as much time outside as possible! She and her dog especially enjoy hiking in Colorado, and she is an avid skier. As a former Fay teacher, Ali loved it when the outdoor space became the catalyst for a teachable moment, and she relied on the outdoors to provide her students with a respite from the classroom!