Hamline News

Outdoor Learning Benefits Students at all Levels


Hamline School of Education Assistant Professor Patty Born and colleagues from the Teach Outdoors! Minnesota coalition are calling for outside learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has issued a position statement and developed a website to support teaching outdoors.

“Especially now, with so much daily uncertainty, teachers and students at every level can benefit from outdoor learning,” said Born. “Being outside is also safer according to COVID-19 protocols.”

Born, an expert in outdoor and environmental education, is the only representative from higher-education in the Teach Outdoors! Minnesota coalition.

“At Hamline, we’re teaching our students how to be teachers in classroom, online and outdoor environments,” said Born.

Teach Outdoors' position is supported by research that demonstrates improved academic success, reduced stress, support for social and emotional development, and connection to nature as direct benefits of outdoor learning.

Members of the coalition are outdoor educators, school administrators, naturalists, and program directors from around Minnesota. They formed Teach Outdoors when they recognized the need for teacher support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted all teachers, not just environmental education teachers, to know that going outside is an option that is possible (even in the winter), it works, and that they have support,” said Born

The group met over the past couple of months and worked on a resource website and a position statement. The website provides links to research, practical tips and a list of fellow educators that are willing to help.

“The statement will support teachers who want to go outside with their classes and the resources on the website will help them be successful when they do,” said Born

Though the website is primarily aimed at pre-K, elementary, middle and high school educators, Born stressed that college students can derive educational, emotional, physiological benefits from learning outdoors.

Winter weather is no obstacle for outdoor learning according to Teach Outdoors. Minnesota boasts a number of outdoor education organizations that provide students with opportunities outside throughout the year. The group's website provides pointers on safety and timing of breaks to warm-up for those venturing out for the first time.

“We’re working to engage teachers from other states in outdoor education during the winter,” said Born. “If we can do it in Minnesota, it can be done anywhere.”

See the postion statement and find resources on the Teach Outdoors! Minnesota website.

Written by staff.