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What is Outdoor Education?

What is Outdoor Education?

Monday, 07 December 2020 15:52

When you think of the term “outdoor education,” there may be a lot of different ideas that come to mind.

Maybe you imagine your kids deep in the wilderness learning survival skills that leave you wondering about their real-life applicability. Maybe you imagine a regular lesson taught in school, but the only difference is that your kids are outside. Outdoor education can certainly be incorporated in a wide variety of ways! 


For the program at Tekoa Foothills, we aim to offer a little bit of everything. There are structured lesson plans created with room for flexibility given that you never quite know what nature will present to you on any given day. As the world transitions into more virtual interactions, we wanted to give kids a chance to unplug from technology and reconnect with nature. Through Unplugged Outdoor Education classes, students are equipped with tools that help them better understand our relationship with nature and what they can do to ensure that a healthy environment exists for future generations.

Classes are structured so that a period of time is spent learning the new material and connecting it to understandable terms for every student. The remaining portion of the class is spent out in nature, digging in the dirt, learning through hands-on activities, and thinking critically about what they are experiencing. Most of the lessons are developed from Project Learning Tree, which is a fantastic resource for educators (formal or informal) to introduce topics of environmental education to children. Their catchphrase is to “Make Learning Fun!”, and we certainly agree! Follow this link to their website if you’re interested in learning more!

The knowledge of how to best offer outdoor learning is continuing to grow and change as our society begins to shift away from traditional styles of teaching. As 2020 is coming to a close, we take a minute to reflect on the experiences of this semester while we prepare to develop even more impactful lessons next Spring. Each student gained different perspectives and various benefits from spending time in nature, and we certainly gained a substantial amount of new ideas as to how best utilize the space we inhabit. One thing is without question, being outside is not only fun, but it feels awesome, too! Enjoying nature, breathing in the fresh air, and exploring together was such a valued time for both the instructors and the students.

Even though we may FEEL that and THINK it to be true, awesome people out in the world have proved that we actually do feel better from spending time outside, which is even cooler! This article gives an overview of research from tons of different sources that say generally just about the same thing- being in nature is beneficial, and learning in nature is even better! Reduced stress levels and increased mental health? Sign us up!

If you are looking for more information about the benefits of outdoor education, there are numerous online resources to browse through! This article gives a quick outline to some of the reasoning as to why there is a strong push for learning this way due to the multitude of benefits.

Tekoa Foothills is always looking for new ideas and ways to improve. Let us hear your thoughts and ideas about outdoor education! If you have experience teaching or have knowledge about other accessible curriculums, please let us know. Let’s keep growing as we learn about nature and all her benefits together!


Written by: Jordan Mitchell
Photo: Jordan Mitchell
Cover Photo: Olivier Miche on Unsplash