We are fortunate to have a school property conducive to outdoor learning. Two of our kindergarten teachers have partnered with the Wellborn Institute to bring place-based ecology education (PBEE) to the Ray School. Jackie Atherley and Leslie Connolly have embraced the idea of outdoor classroom learning and are acting as mentors and guides to other teachers in the school who are interested in bringing PBEE to their classrooms.
At our last Hanover School Board meeting, Leslie and Jackie presented the research showing the benefit of outdoor learning and play in many areas: cognitive development, academic performance, social skill development, social and emotional health, physical health, and sense of stewardship. They shared the the link to the video Best Day Ever: Forest Kindergarten, which I encourage you to watch if you have not already seen it.
Classes are held outside in all kinds of weather. Most recently, with the arrival of snow, students (and teachers!) bundled up to explore the winter forest. They listened to a story while sitting on their tree stump seats, found animal tracks, built structures made of sticks and branches, made countless nature observations, and then ended their time in our Colonial House with snacks next to a warm fire.
For our kindergarten students, fresh air and exploration leads to great learning and what can be described as “the best day ever.” That is, until the next outdoor classroom day!