How outdoor classrooms assist with social distancing
Education after lockdown: How outdoor classrooms can assist with social distancing
It’s a well-publicised fact that healthy, happy children have more positive outcomes when it comes to their education. Students who can expand their learning outside the four walls of the classroom can reap the benefits of improved mental and physical well-being.
Unfortunately, opportunities for children to access outdoor spaces are in decline. During the current COVID-19 lockdown period the time we can spend outside is limited, and even after the restrictions are lifted there are still valid concerns from parents who are worried about safety, crime and traffic leading them to keep their children indoors. Technology has also played its part in stopping the nation’s children from spending time amongst nature and have contributed to children who are more sedentary than ever before.
The education sector has long been aware that the outdoor environment offers children an opportunity to learn through play and develop problem-solving methods and hone their fine motor skills, both of which play a crucial role in child development. Increasingly UK schools have been exploring ways to move teaching beyond the classroom and taking responsibility to provide their pupils with access to outside learning.
Curriculum-based outside learning
Traditionally, outside learning has encompassed PE lessons, sporting activities or field trips, but there are so many curriculum-based lessons that can be taken in the school grounds.
Children will enjoy collecting leaves and turning them into an art-based collage. By setting interesting tasks such as asking the class to estimate the height of trees or school buildings you’ll help to develop their understanding of measurements. You could also simply take your pupils outside to read a story and feel the benefit of fresh air and gain a boost of Vitamin D.
Preparing for a return to school
Much speculation has been made about the re-opening of UK nurseries and schools after the current lockdown restriction lifts, although as yet, no firm plans or guidelines have been issued. A government source has stated that schools will be ‘of a top priority’ as the nation navigates its way out the lockdown period, whilst many headteacher have issued caution about schools reopening before June 1st.
Amidst the speculation, one thing is looking increasingly certain, and that is the realisation that the educational landscape is likely to look vastly different to how it was before the pandemic.
Schools and nurseries may be asked to implement social distancing measures to help safeguard staff and pupils when the education system reopens. This will prove exceptionally challenging, especially in areas where classroom sizes are on the increase, or in schools where space is already at a premium.
How outdoor classrooms provide social distancing measures
Leadership teams within the education system are having to consider the possibility of a return to school life whilst maintaining social distancing. It’s a challenge that all schools could potentially face, but by maximising the outside space on the premises, it is possible to create additional learning spaces that also combine the benefits that an outdoor classroom can bring.
Our outside educational environments are constructed in play grade pressure treated timber to provide a sturdy, all-weather sheltered space in which to study or relax during break-times. By utilising an outside classroom to split class numbers, teachers can halve the number of students in the same space at any one time.
The outdoor classrooms produced by the team at Edspace are designed to accommodate a varying number of students according to student numbers and the space available.
Our 4m hexagonal structure comfortably seats 28 children, whilst the 7 x 4m rectangular classroom hold 50 children. During social distancing, these numbers should be reduced to allow for a 2m space between children whilst providing the flexibility to reduce the number of students in the traditional classroom.
The British weather won’t stop us!
We know that the British weather is unpredictable at best and understand that by investing in an additional outdoor teaching space you’ll want to be able to use it all year round.
All our classrooms are fully customisable with options to include canvas drop down panels that can protect from wind, rain or harmful UV rays. We can include integrated whiteboards or chalkboards which aid more traditional curriculum subjects such as maths and English. You can even opt to include wooden planters which can be used to get kids involved in growing colourful flower beds or a herb garden.
Of course, all our outdoor spaces have an integral entrance ramp as standard, making them fully inclusive for everyone to enjoy.
Outdoor learning made easy
It may be a few weeks before schools can begin to welcome pupils back, but one thing is sure, the educational landscape has shifted, certainly for the foreseeable future and perhaps forever. If lack of space is causing you a headache and you want to prepare for a safe return to teaching, speak to the experts at Edspace.
We are a friendly bunch dedicated to providing advice to schools, with a free consultation and a comprehensive design and installation service that takes advantage of our many years of experience supplying play and outdoor learning products to the educational sector.