Outdoor Time, Every Day
Students of all ages spend several hours outside, every day, because we value outside time as an intentional priority rather than an afterthought. In the 2022-2023 academic year, each student, regardless of age, spent an average of 9 hours outside each week.
The outdoors is our learning laboratory, in so many ways. Between free play recess, neighborhood walks, PE & yoga, gardening, circle time, snack & lunch, and outdoor lessons and explorations, the time quickly adds up. The research-supported benefits of outdoor learning are immense and diverse.
“Nature breeds curiosity, it helps to grow explorers rather than robots. It reminds us that we are part of something bigger. It grounds us, calms us.” - Ben Palmer-Fry
Most teachers will tell you from experience what researchers have proven to be true: allowing children to move, have hands-on experiences, and interact with their world encourages curiosity, creativity, and deeper understanding of concepts. Sitting at a desk for hours on end memorizing facts and completing worksheets is not only developmentally inappropriate for most students, it does not inspire discovery, innovation, or a love of learning.
These skills are honed through open-ended free play. Children who are told how to play a game will only play it according to the instructions with limited variations. Children who are provided with game materials and no instructions will come up with numerous creative ways to play. This is especially true for play outdoors where every tree, leaf, rock, or stick could be an inspirational game element.
Nature time is not just for creativity, it is for nurturing the whole child, building strong agile minds and bodies. The open-ended possibilities of nature require intense focus; the brain is constantly assessing risks and planning the next steps. The body is making constant adjustments to adapt to the surface beneath the feet, the next rock to jump to, or the next branch to climb.
Successfully making these mental and physical adjustments brings joy and builds confidence, which translates to all aspects of a child’s wellbeing.
When we step back and allow children a little more freedom in risky play, we nurture independence and trust in their newly built confidence in their abilities and the joy of their imaginations. These children, in discovering the great wide world outside themselves, build the skills and confidence to lead others and change the world!
Heading out for a walk is a part of class routine at The Circle School. Whether walking in a nearby park or greenspace, or just around the block, our students learn to listen, look, and learn as they walk, to re-center themselves and reconnect with the natural world, while also getting the wiggles out!
There is so much to learn outside of the classroom!
“Go for walks frequently – walks expand vocabulary by giving the children the opportunity to look for new words to describe their world.”
- Isabeth Hardy, Circle School Founder
Providing hands-on learning opportunities to connect with the natural world is essential to growing the next generation of leaders and Changemakers.
Gardening outdoor physical education have always been an important part of the integrated curriculum at The Circle School. Our students spend much of their day learning outdoors and learning from the outdoors. The Circle School believes that in order for children to grow to care deeply about the Earth, they have to experience it firsthand! Children who spend time immersed in nature grow into empowered adults ready to take the steps necessary to conserve and preserve our planet.