Putting many children in close proximity inside the four walls of a classroom does not sound right to any educator at the moment. While some schools are continuing to teach online, others are planning new ways of teaching by coming up with modified classrooms.
Take Lindsey Earle, a fourth-grade teacher at Prairie Hill Waldorf School in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, the US, for example. She got the idea of the open classroom from the school's early childhood program, which already has outdoor time in the mornings. Since the school’s campus is huge, it was easy for the management to allow Earle to build this outdoor classroom. Interestingly, this may not be just a temporary post-COVID solution for them.
The outdoor classroom will be 12 sided, with panels set up in a circle about 8 feet in diameter. A canopy, or tented roof, will leave space between the walls and "roof," but will provide shelter from the weather. There will also be a fire pit as they plan to continue in the winter as well. “Our students are used to being outside more often than not," Earle told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"We do a lot outside; right now, we're committed to being outside for at least two periods a day, which would allow the children to have a break from the indoors,” she added. According to her, this space is on the fast track to being finished by the time students return in September.
It will be up to teachers as to when they want to bring their classes out, based on their individual schedules. This time spent studying outside will not count as recess or any play-time.
"We know that being outside allows for more vitamin D, which helps boost your immune system. There are studies that show students are actually less distracted and feel better emotionally when outdoors. So more outdoor play and contact with nature can actually help decrease anxiety and increase attention spans," Earle said.
Earl believes, out of all the brilliant ideas the school has had over the years, this is the most accepted and believed in, parents and teachers alike are liking the idea. What do you think?
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