Should Leesville Have Outdoor Classrooms?

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Newspaper students Clariza Richert and Sophie Key working outside to complete their assignments. Getting fresh air helps them to write their articles. (Photo courtesy: Siena Trainor)

Leesville has 83 minute class periods which leads students to be cooped up in classrooms all day. It can be hard for students to focus for the full 83 minutes making them not get the full learning experience and benefits out of their classes. 

Lila Padden, sophomore said. “With such long class times I can get very distracted after about forty-five minutes, knowing that there is still around half of the class left makes me just want to go on my phone. I hate looking at the same classroom every single day. I would love outdoor classrooms because I would enjoy the change of scenery and it would help me to pay attention more.”

Leesville has always had collaborative spaces as an alternative learning environment for teachers to use. They allow classes to get out of their room and work in a new environment. A step up from this could be implementing outdoor classrooms on Leesville’s campus. 

There are multiple locations throughout Leesville’s campus where the outdoor classrooms could be located. One of these could be the courtyards accessed through the downstairs of the main building, they are heavily shaded and not too far of a trek from the classrooms. Another space that could be used is the blacktop area of the track, this would create a great area for desks or large activities to be held. Finally, the grassy area in between the two buildings could be transformed into an outdoor learning area.

According to outdoornebraska.gov, “Children who are taught in an outdoor setting– like an outdoor classroom — tend to score higher on standardized test scores taught in a traditional classroom.” If this isn’t enough of a reason to start having classes outside, here are some more benefits they provide.

Outdoor learning can make a huge difference in the class’s participation as a whole. It can make lessons more engaging and interesting, which leads to student’s motivation levels in learning to increase. Working outside requires teamwork and communication which in turn can improve student’s social skills altogether.

Many physical benefits can come from the use of outdoor classrooms as well. “Your body both energizes and relaxes from the sunlight and fresh air, your cognitive abilities can improve alongside it. Spending time with nature may enhance your memory functions, especially your short-term memory.” This could be very helpful to students who have upcoming presentations or tests and quizzes. 

The subjects that could gain the most benefits from outdoor classrooms are science, art, geography, and physical education. The outdoor classrooms could provide hands-on opportunities that might not be available indoors. These subjects can be effectively taught in outdoor settings and help students connect to the curriculum better.

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