We put together this video to try to capture the essence of what our Outdoor Learning Programme is all about.

When we talk about Outdoor Learning at South Lee Educate Together what we mean is children being given regular opportunities to experience and learn outside the traditional classroom context. What that means in practise is a daily programme of lessons grounded in the theme of native Irish animals that are conducted outside of the classroom within the CSN campus grounds.

There is an extensive body of educational and health research that demonstrates that learning outside benefits children’s academic performance, social competencies, self-confidence and physical and mental wellbeing (1, 2).

Our programme seeks to build on our children’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world around them to deliver the Irish primary curriculum as set out by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Subjects such as Primary Language (writing and speech), Science, Maths, Geography, Drama, Visual Arts, Physical Education are delivered in a cross-curricular, holistic (and most importantly for the children!) fun way.

Through the programme we aim to build the children’s understanding of the natural world and hence create an emotional connection with nature that will remain with the children for their lives. Research (3) shows that building positive early life experiences with nature creates adults that are invested and committed to ecological preservation and protection.

Most importantly, our children have told us that they love learning outside!

Tadhg, Senior Infants: “It makes me really, really, really, really, really, really happy!”

Cora, 1st Class: “I feel free when I’m outside and love learning about nature.”

Hugh, 1st Class: “The birds are singing and that makes me calm. And we get to roll down the hill!”


References
1. Becker, C., Lauterbach, G., Spengler, S., Dettweiler, U. & Mess, F. (2017) ‘Effects of Regular Classes in Outdoor Education Settings: A Systematic Review on Students’ Learning, Social and Health Dimensions’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(5), pp 485.
2. Kuo, M., Barnes, M. & Jordan, C. (2019) ‘Do Experiences With Nature Promote Learning? Converging Evidence of a Cause-and-Effect Relationship’, Frontiers in Psychology, 10(305) doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00305.
3. Chawla, L. (1999) ‘Life paths into effective environmental action’, Journal of Environmental Education, 31(1), pp. 15-26