Fresh Air Learning: An Outdoor Education for Children

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Unlimited learning and play opportunities outside. Image by Schick

Unlimited learning and play opportunities outside. Image by Schick

On a more personal note, Ms. Edgar states that her favorite part of the program is playing in the mud with the kids. She states that her biggest wish is that all children could use the outdoors as a classroom, “because nature is a beautiful teacher that encourages deep thinking about the interconnections that sustain us all.

Does Outdoor Play Really Work?

Researchers Andrea Taylor and Frances Kuo looked at whether outdoor play truly works for children with ADHD. In their study, “Children with Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park,” the researchers evaluated children diagnosed with ADHD and their ability to concentrate after a variety of different walks. They specifically wanted to know if a specific type of outdoor experience was more beneficial than another. Children went on three different walks – a walk through a city park, a walk through downtown and a walk through a neighborhood.

The results of the study showed that just 20 minutes of time spent in a park setting, as opposed to the other outdoor settings, was sufficient to increase the children’s ability to pay attention. Their conclusion was that not only does being outside have a significant impact on children’s ability to concentrate, but that being in nature itself (as opposed to urban settings) is specifically beneficial for children.

Outdoor Learning Programs for Kids

Playing and learning outside may seem like a relatively simple aspect of childhood, but as demonstrated by the Fresh Air Program, it is in fact one of the more important things that children could participate in while growing up.

Resources:

National Wildlife Federation. Nature Play Spaces. (2013). Accessed January 15, 2013.

Alison Gopnik. Let the Children Play, It’s Good For Them! (2012). Smithsonian Magazine. Accessed January 15, 2013.

Charles, C. Children’s Contact with the Outdoors and Nature: A Focus on Educators and Educational Setting. Children’s Nature Network. (2010). Accessed January 15, 2013.

Louv, R. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. (2008). Algonquin Books.

Taylor, A., Kuo, F. Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park. (2008). Journal of Attention Disorders. Accessed January 15, 2013.

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