COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center building will be closed to visitors until further notice. Our trails and grounds remain open.

Outdoor Learning: A Solution for Schools During COVID-19

July 7, 2020
A 2nd grader embarks on an animal sign scavenger hunt in an outdoor learning area near his school. (photo © Ben Conant)

Supporting Teachers & Students by Moving Learning Outside

As our communities plan for the reopening of schools, Harris Center teacher-naturalists have been working with other place-based educators from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine to encourage incorporating outdoor learning more fully into K-8 school schedules in response to the health and educational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a position paper written by the Inside-Outside Advisory Group — which includes Harris Center School Programs Director Janet Altobello — this coalition of experienced educators advocates for the importance of teaching outside as much as possible. The paper also provides examples of how this might work.

The goal is for children to be physically present at school, and to offer full-day, full-week schooling as a way to ensure that all children have equitable access to nurturing, consistent, and developmentally appropriate learning environments. Using outdoor learning spaces offers a reduced risk of virus transmission and provides positive mental health and academic learning benefits. Links to supporting articles are provided in the position paper.

Now is the time to plan for the design of outdoor learning spaces, which can be quite simple and adapted for wet or chilly fall weather through the use of tarps and sit-upons. There are numerous resources to support classroom teachers as they move their indoor routines outside, and Harris Center teacher-naturalists are ready to help here in the Monadnock Region.

Contact Us

For more information or to request assistance with adapting your Monadnock Region teaching for outdoor learning, please contact Janet Altobello by email.