Back to School? Learn Outdoors.
Updated: Sep 24, 2018
September in Maine means shorter days, cooler nights and back to school for our littlest Penobscot River fans. Luckily, we have some time still before the winter chill sets in. And this can be one of the best times to extend our kids' learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.
By definition, an outdoor classroom is a space that brings learning outside. It becomes a gathering place for teachers or parents to integrate experiences in nature to bring learning to life for students.
Our friends at the Penobscot Riverkeepers uses our very own Penobscot River as their outdoor classroom - fostering good stewardship of natural resources through hands-on learning. Each year the Penobscot River and Bay Institute (PRBI) offers on-the-river experiences for school children throughout the Penobscot River watershed as part of its Penobscot Riverkeepers program. This outdoor educational experience helps students gain an understanding of the complex linkage between people and water quality, shows students how their actions affect the environment and what they can do to make change happen and teaches students how to observe and interpret the physical world as a process of decision making.
Study after study shows that time in an outdoor classroom contributes to the success of our children. Some of the benefits include: 1) improved social skills such as greater self-esteem, cooperation, conflict resolution, leadership, relationship with peers, problem solving, motivation to learn and behavior in class, 2) healthier lifestyles due to increased physical activity, improved focus and decreased stress, 3) higher academic achievement and 4) increased interest in environmental stewardship - when children have more exposure to outdoor spaces, they develop a stronger attachment to the environment, and are more likely to take action to preserve it.
This fall, grab your students or family and explore in or along New England's second largest river, the Penobscot River! Do you have a favorite way to engage in outdoor learning? We'd love to hear all about it! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.