Supporting Neurodivergent Pupils with Outdoor Learning
Educators across the UK are constantly seeking new ways to engage and support our students. For neurodivergent pupils, this can be especially challenging.
One approach that has shown great promise is Outdoor Learning. Outdoor Learning is an approach to education that takes place outside of the traditional classroom setting. This can include activities such as nature walks, gardening, outdoor games, and team-building exercises.
Research has shown that Outdoor Learning can have a range of benefits for neurodivergent pupils. Firstly, it can provide a more sensory-rich environment, which can be particularly beneficial for those with sensory processing difficulties. Being outside allows students to engage with a variety of different textures, smells, colours, and sounds, which can help to build confidence and increase engagement.
Outdoor Learning can provide a more flexible and adaptable learning environment. For example, students who struggle with traditional classroom routines or social interaction may find it easier to engage in collaborative activities, sports or games outside. The natural environment can also provide a more relaxed and calming atmosphere, which can be especially helpful for students with anxiety or other emotional difficulties.
Another benefit of Outdoor Learning is that it can support physical development. Many neurodivergent pupils struggle with coordination, balance, and gross motor skills. Outdoor activities such as climbing, running, and jumping can help to build these skills in a fun and engaging way. Additionally, Outdoor Learning can help to develop social skills and emotional intelligence. Group activities such as team-building exercises or outdoor games can encourage communication, cooperation, and problem-solving. What's more, The Outdoor Classroom is helping all UK pupils improve their physical health in an aim to reduce the worrying levels of childhood obesity.
Being outside can also help to reduce stress and improve mood, which can have a positive impact on emotional regulation and behaviour. Of course, Outdoor Learning is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to tailor activities to the specific needs and abilities of each student. For example, some students may need additional support or adaptations to participate in outdoor activities, such as visual aids or sensory tools. Features built into our app support neurodivergent pupils further. With options from audio questioning to drawing responses pupils have a range of ways to respond to teacher-set challenges so learning is accessible and enjoyable for all pupils.
It is also important to ensure that Outdoor Learning activities are safe and appropriate for all students. In addition to the benefits for students, Outdoor Learning can also be a valuable tool for teachers. It can provide a break from the monotony of the classroom and allow teachers to engage with their students in a different way. Outdoor Learning can also help to build relationships between teachers and students, as well as between students themselves.
Incorporating Outdoor Learning into the curriculum may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Start small - take your class outside for a nature walk or a game of tag. As you become more comfortable with outdoor learning, you can begin to incorporate more structured activities or even plan entire lessons outside. The Outdoor Classroom has built-in supportive features to help schools integrate Outdoor Learning into their curriculum seamlessly. The app is entirely adaptable, so schools can start small or hit the ground running with their Outdoor Learning journey. Courses planned by teachers are entirely customizable, so teachers can utilise the app for a fun starter task, mid-lesson challenge or to teach the full lesson.
In conclusion, Outdoor Learning can be a powerful tool for supporting neurodivergent pupils. It provides a sensory-rich, flexible, and engaging learning environment that can support physical, social, and emotional development. By incorporating Outdoor Learning into our teaching practice, we can help to create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.