Five easy ways to bring the outdoor classroom to life

Spring is the time to head outdoors and embrace being an ‘outsider,’ Kris Kiser writes. 

Spend more time outside this summer.

Green spaces promote outdoor living, contribute to our health and well-being, support wildlife, and offer a home playground for our children and pets. They also are also outdoor classrooms, offering a wealth of enrichment experiences for our kids and families.  


Nothing beats getting outside and enjoying nature. And, remember, nature starts at your backdoor. Here are five ways to bring a little outdoor learning to your life:


Encourage regular exploration. Go out to your backyard or take a walk around the block. While outside, ask your kids to examine how the landscape changes with the seasons. Note the different types of plants, birds and wildlife you encounter along the way. Discuss how the living landscapes change with the seasons to get your kids to start noticing their surroundings on a regular basis.


Discuss how outdoor time makes you feel. Science proves that exploring nature – in our own backyards, community parks and school yards – reduces stress, improves memory, boosts heart health, and offers a host of other benefits for our minds and bodies. Do an experiment with your child. Spend 10 minutes outside playing or taking a walk, then discuss how the experience made them feel.

Take a tough talk outdoors. Need to have a heart-to-heart with your child? Scientists have discovered that communication between parents and children is more connected when conducted outside.


Study outside. Fresh air can be a catalyst for fresh ideas. Take the work out of homework by moving your child’s study or reading sessions to your backyard or a neighborhood park.  


Get a move on. The family yard is a good remedy for computer and screen time. A game of tag or hide and seek in your outdoor living room will engage your kids with the natural setting around them while disengaging them from TVs and tablets.