1) School performance increases when children learn outdoors A number of studies have documented increased school performance through outdoor education. Research has documented increased standardized test scores, enhanced attitude about school, improved in-school behavior, improved attendance, and overall enhanced student achievement when students learn in and about nature. In addition, outdoor education effectively employs a greater range of children’s intelligences.
2) Learning outdoors is healthy Learning outdoors is active and increases students’ physical, mental and social health. Access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. Outdoor learning and access to nature also decrease stress levels of students and teachers.
3) Learning outdoors supports child development Children greatly benefit developmentally from being outdoors. Outdoor education and play support emotional, behavioral and intellectual development. Studies have shown that students who learn outdoors develop: a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative.
4) Teaching and learning outdoors is fun Often, the outdoors provides a change of pace from the classroom, which students and teachers enjoy. Studies have shown increased student enthusiasm for learning outdoors.
5 ) Learning outdoors helps develop civic attitudes and behaviors Outdoor experiences help students increase their understanding of their natural and human communities which leads to a sense of belonging to a place. Through connection to place, students develop stronger environmental attitudes and civic behaviors. Outdoors learning experiences are the foundation of raising the next generation of active citizens who take care of their natural and human communities.
6) Outdoor education engages families and the community. Outdoor learning connects families and the community to the school. Outdoor classrooms provide natural entry points for families and community members to get involved with student learning. The relationships developed through outdoor learning lead to greater parental and community involvement in and support for the school.
Research Articles and Summaries Summaries of outdoor education research
1) Charles, C. (2010). Children’s contact with the outdoors and nature: A focus on educators and educational settings. Children & Nature Network.
This extensive report summarizes outdoor education and nature experience research related to schools and educational settings. It’s available at:
2) Coyle, K.J. (2010). Back to school: Back outside! National Wildlife Federation.
This report summarizes the benefits of outdoor education and provides action
ideas, policy recommendations, and additional resources. It’s available at:
3) American Institutes for Research. (2005). Effects of outdoor education programs for children in California. Palo Alto, CA.Available on the Sierra Club website.
4) Blair, D. (2009). The child in the garden: an evaluative review of the benefits of school gardening. Journal of Environmental Education , 40(2), 15-38.
This study may be available in a library near you or can be purchased online
through the publisher at: http://www.heldref.org/pubs/jee/about.html
5) Dyment, J. (2005). Gaining ground: The power and potential of school ground greening in the Toronto District School Board. Evergreen.
This report was commissioned by Evergreen, a charitable organization focused on
bringing communities and nature together and is available online at: http://www.evergreen.ca/en/lg/gaining_ground.pdf
6) Lieberman, G. A. & Hoody, L.L. (1998). Closing the achievement gap: Using the environment as a n integrating context for learning. SEER: Poway, CA, 1998.
State Environmental Education Roundtable. (2000). California student assessment project. Poway, CA.
Available on the Web site of the State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER) at www.seer.or