The Benefits of Taking Kindergarten Outdoors
By exploring outside their classroom—and even their schoolyard—two teachers found their students’ learning potential became boundless.
What happens when kindergartners spend almost their entire school day outside, even through a harsh Canadian winter? When two teachers from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School (PETES), in Gatineau, Quebec, dubbed a tiny park near their urban schoolyard “the magical forest” and started taking their small charges there daily, the learning adventures began. They say this approach has resulted in fewer distractions, better inclusion for all students, and more effective learning.
To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the links below.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics’ report on how play enhances development in young children (2018)
- Kayleigh Skene, Christine M. O’Farrelly, Elizabeth M. Byrne, Natalie Kirby, Eloise C. Stevens, and Paul G. Ramchandani’s meta-analysis and review on whether guidance during play can enhance children’s learning and development in educational contexts (2022)
- Rachel Parker, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, and Amy Berry’s article on learning through play at school (2022)
- Enrico Sella, Monica Bolognesi, Emma Bergamini, Lucia Mason, and Francesca Pazzaglia’s comprehensive review of studies on the psychological benefits of attending forest school for preschool children (2023)
- Jeff Mann et al.’s systematic review of studies about the effects of nature-specific outdoor learning on schoolchildren’s learning and development (2022)
- Susan Strife and Liam Downey’s article suggesting a new direction for race- and class-based environmental inequality research on childhood development and access to nature (2009)
- Orla Kelly, Karen Buckley, Lauren J. Lieberman, and Katrina Arndt’s paper describing a framework for inclusion of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in outdoor learning (2022)
For schools without easy or safe access to wilderness environments, teachers can find more resources to support outdoor learning in the articles “7 Ways to Connect Young Students to Nature” and “Promoting Outdoor Learning in Urban Settings” or watch the video “7 Tips for Moving Learning Outside.” There are also nonprofit organizations such as OutTeach and the Children and Nature Network that offer resources to help educators get students outside.