The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of clean, fresh air. Yet our children continue to spend seven hours a day indoors at school.

To combat the 1918 flu pandemic and later, tuberculosis, classrooms were moved outside.

Images abound of children either sitting at their outdoor desks wrapped in blankets or cross legged on a beach.

Expecting to find innovative educators setting up outdoor classrooms, I scoured the internet for somewhere, anywhere in Europe for my 14 year old. Nada.

Apart from forest schools catering for primary school children, I couldn’t find any outdoor schools for teenagers.

With unequivocal evidence of smartphone addiction and growing incidence of anxiety and depression, teenagers need the healing power of nature now more than ever.

There’s an abundance of research showing that outdoor learning benefits children’s’ mental, social, psychological health and development.

A four year study of 125 schools in England showed that the majority of children thought they learned better and achieved more when learning outside.

About 92% said they enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors, with 90% feeling happier and healthier as a result.

Malaga Beach
There is a plan for an Irish outdoor-only school to relocate to sunny southern Spain.

Another advantage of outdoor learning is the provenbenefit to physical health and wellbeing. A report by the National Wildlife Federation – “Back to School: Back Outside!” makes a compelling case for the benefits of outdoor learning for academic performance, child development, and physical health.

The research conducted by the Natural Connections Demonstration also supported these learnings; showing that 72% of students reported improved interactions with others.

There’s a plethora of research that supports the idea that spending time outside supports self-esteem.

The University College London (UCL) released research in 2019 that found that 80% of children felt more self/confident after spending time outdoors.

This research shows that spending time outside, and learning in outdoor classrooms, has a measurably positive impact on a child’s healthy development. 

In our quest for outdoor schooling, we’re relocating to the clement climes of Southern Spain.

As the winter closes in on my native Ireland, our days shrink as the light fades and we become shrouded in darkness.

Swapping our fleeces for factor 150 (freckles!), we’d love to connect with parents interested in creating informal, outdoor learning opportunities for adventurous teenagers.

As Nelson Mandela once said: Siempre parece imposible hasta que se hace

Tess speaks English, Spanish & French & her email is: tfless26@gmail.com

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