5 Important Benefits of Outdoor Learning in Primary Schools

Should primary schools incorporate outdoor learning programs in their curricula? Find out more about the benefits of these programs right now!

Why Outdoor Learning Programs Are Important

Opportunities for children to spend time outside are decreasing due to the development of urban environments, along with an increase in prevalent modern technology.

Living in urban environments has reduced the number of green spaces that are both easily accessible and safe for our children to explore.
Meanwhile, modern technology has increased the amount of time children spend behind computer and smartphone screens.

While technology is an important part of our everyday lives, it can have significant negative impacts on the development of pre-K and elementary school children.

There are numerous physiological implications associated with the proliferation of technology use by young children.

However, with parents working full-time and juggling a list of other important responsibilities, it can be difficult to squeeze in a daily or weekly trip to the park.

This is where outdoor learning programs come in: they provide an ideal way for children to spend time outdoors, away from technology, while learning essential social and problem-solving skills in a safe, controlled environment. 

Given the location of SCH Academy, 62-acres of green campus, adjacent to 10-acres of school-owned woods, SCH borders the Wissahickon Watershed, a vast wooded park and stream system owned by Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Lower School students have access to this green space and wooded trails on a daily basis. This type of activity is built into the SCH Lower School curriculum and a love for the outdoors is ingrained in our students all the way through high school graduation. 

5 Important Benefits of Outdoor Learning in Primary Schools


1. Reduce stress levels.

Stress arises when the combination of internal and external pressures exceeds the individual’s ability to cope with their situation.
Research suggests that time spent in green spaces, including parks, play areas, and gardens:
  • Promotes constructive, imaginative, and collaborative play which reduces stress and mental fatigue.
  • Improves self-regulation, and reduces stress and aggression.
  • Lessens the symptoms of ADHD.
  • Promotes self-confidence and improves concentration.
  • Builds environmental stewardship ethic.
While it may not be possible for parents to make time for a daily drive to the park, primary schools can and should incorporate daily outdoor time into their learning programs.

2. Improve creativity and problem-solving.

Outdoor learning can support the development of children's creativity and problem-solving skills. Being exposed to a different environment offers rich opportunities for developing their imagination, inventiveness, and resourcefulness.

Playing and learning outdoors offers children a chance to explore, experiment, discover, and experience things that are unique to the world beyond classroom walls.


3. Improve social skills.

Evidence suggests that outdoor learning can help primary school children develop their interpersonal and social skills. In addition, outdoor activities can foster a sense of teamwork and community among classmates.

For example, at SCH Academy our Lower School boys can take part in the Big Brother-Little Brother hike to develop a sense of comradery with their fellow students. This year, the high school seniors take their pre-k buddies on a hike to Apple Mountain, entering into the woods from their classroom’s back door and ending up on top of the nearby hill in the Wissahickon Woods. 


4. Build survival skills.

Outdoor programs can help children learn important safety skills strategies they would not be aware of otherwise. For example, primary school children can try their hand at mapmaking and orienteering, improving their spatial awareness as a result.

Every SCH Academy 9th grade student participates in a five day trek along the Appalachian Trail where the school partners with Outward Bound PHL to teach the importance of resilience, bonding, nature, and survival skills. 

5. Learn about sustainability.

Exploring the great outdoors can help students develop a sense of environmental stewardship and learn about sustainability. 

Outdoor learning programs are valuable supplements for environmental education classes. By visiting historic and natural settings related to their studies, students can deepen and extend their understanding of what they’ve learned in the classroom while developing life-long outdoor skills they can carry with them for years to come.

Why You Should Choose Springside Chestnut Hill Academy

Situated on a 62-acre campus in Chestnut Hill, SCH sits right next to one of the nation’s most beautiful natural landmarks: the Wissahickon Valley Park.

From their earliest years at SCH, students are encouraged to participate in various outdoor learning programs.

All SCH students make regular trips down to the Wissahickon Valley Park creek, along its trails, and through its woods as they develop their sense of environmental stewardship, learn about sustainability, enjoy its natural beauty, and study the challenges facing this native habitat.

With the help of our outdoor programs, we like to encourage our students to leave the world of smartphones, iPads, and Wii’s behind, and engage in a different kind of experience that focuses on the real world and people around them.


What’s Next?

It’s important for all educational institutions, especially primary schools, to integrate more outdoor learning into their curricula.
With over 150 years of tradition, community, and academic excellence behind us, SCH is proud to offer a superior educational experience that enables our students to lead incredibly fulfilling lives inside and outside the classroom—including the great outdoors.

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