June 18th

happy kid with magnifying glass

A new study indicates that children learn better while studying outside. To conduct the research, a scientist named Matluba Khan studied primary school children in Bangladesh. She looked into whether an outdoor environment improved children’s academic performance and motivation to learn.

Improving schoolyards for outdoor learning

Schoolyards in Bangladesh are typically very barren. So Khan started by asking children (ages 8-12) what they would like to have in their schoolyard for both learning and play. She also brainstormed with teachers about what they needed to be able to teach in the outdoor environment.

The children wanted places to play and learn together, as well as areas in which to explore and experiment in an environment that would challenge them physically and intellectually. They also wanted a space to connect with nature and to be alone to reflect.

The teachers requested nature areas that offered hands-on opportunities for STEM learning. They wanted different types of vegetation, in addition to natural materials like twigs and seeds that could be use during math lessons.

All of the preferences were taken into account to design an updated school ground that was unveiled in January 2015. Since then, teachers have regularly conducted math and science lessons in the outdoor space.

What research revealed

Khan’s research indicates that the children who studied outdoors scored higher on math and science achievements than those whose schoolyards had not been improved. While the outdoor learning provided hands-on experiences for all students, it was particularly beneficial for those who previously underachieved. Khan found the children who weren’t interactive in the classroom participated more in the outdoor sessions.

This research supports previous findings that an outdoor environment can improve children’s motivation and well-being. Outdoor learning has also been found to increase children’s physical activity.

Learn more

To learn more about this study, click here. For more information about the many benefits of the living landscapes in our schoolyards, community areas, and backyards, go to TurfMutt.com.