Homeschooling Outside: 4 Benefits of Outdoor Learning and Practical Ways to Get Started

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A student wearing sunglasses looking up and smiling

The advent of warmer weather in the spring and summer months presents the perfect time for  homeschooling outside. Read on to get suggestions for some practical ways that families can incorporate outdoor learning into their student’s education plan.

4 Benefits of Outdoor Learning

In addition to the many physical and mental health benefits that come from spending time outside—such as reduced stress and cortisol levels, and an increase in vitamin D—there are also specific benefits of learning outside that your student may enjoy during their school day. Here are four benefits of homeschooling outside:

  1. Children benefit on a developmental level from spending time outdoors – Studies have shown that “students who learn outdoors develop: a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills,self-discipline, and initiative.”
  2. Improved attitude about school and learning – Taking classes and learning opportunities outdoors has also been shown to create a more positive attitude about school and education.
  3. Improved academic performance – Many studies have recorded increased school performance through the integration of outdoor education.
  4. Outdoor education and homeschooling outside can help employ a greater range of children’s intelligences – More ways to learn and higher levels of engagement lead to more positive academic and personal outcomes. 
A student enjoying homeschool nature activities near a lake.

5 Ways to Take Homeschooling Outside

The benefits of taking learning outside are clear, but how can you get started integrating outdoor learning into your at-home learning program? Check out these recommended outdoor learning activities for elementary students and beyond.

1. Visit the local zoo or nature center for science lessons

What better way to see the wonders of nature in action than by seeing them up close? Taking a trip to the zoo, a nature center, or even a local outdoor park is one of the best homeschool nature activities. 

2. Enhance history lessons with a trip to a museum or historical site

Textbooks and online lessons are excellent learning tools but getting to visit a museum full of artifacts, images, speech recordings, and countless other formats of engaging learning material is an unparalleled way to teach history. 

3. Embrace the landscape in your hometown

A great way to tap into the power of outdoor learning, while also fostering appreciation and pride in your local town, is looking to your local city as inspiration for homeschooling outside. What unique landmarks does your town have? What about wildlife? You may find that your hometown is the perfect launching point for learning about all kinds of school subjects. 

4. Try “roadschooling”

There’s no reason that your outdoor learning session can’t involve a road trip. In fact, visits to historical sites, National Parks, and so many more destinations make for excellent learning experiences for students of all ages. “Roadschooling” introduces students to new places and uniquely engaging learning experiences.

A remote-learning family “roadschooling.”

5. Head outside for physical education

Nature is the best gym of all. Head outside to get active with your child. Go for a run, a walk, a nature stroll—the options are endless! 

Is It Better to Learn in an Inside Classroom or an Outside Classroom?

While the inherent positive outcomes of learning outdoors cannot be denied, there are benefits to learning both indoors and outdoors. The best solution? A healthy mix of both! Incorporate some of the outdoor learning activities for elementary students—or any student—suggested above in your homeschooling approach, and watch your child grow in new ways!

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