Time outdoors helps create healthy, environmentally aware children

Outdoor Classroom Day will be celebrated across South Africa on 5 November to show why time outdoors is critical for children’s health, wellbeing and their connection to nature.

● 76% of teachers globally say getting outdoors is extremely important for children’s engagement with nature and place1
● Environmental stewardship and connection with place is strongly related to the amount of time we are immersed in nature as children2
● NO country offers ALL children a consistent minimum amount of time outdoors for lessons or playtime3
● Over half (58%) of schools who get involved in Outdoor Classroom Day last year have increased outdoor playtimes4
● Outdoor Classroom Day will be celebrated by more than 100 000 children in 60 countries around the world on 5 November

Leadership and education non-profit, Symphonia for South Africa, is calling on schools across South Africa to get involved in Outdoor Classroom Day on 5 November. In addition to being a perfect tool to manage schooling in a COVID-19 world, time outdoors is critical for children’s physical and mental health and their connection to nature.

Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, more than 2000 children across the country have been registered to celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day this year. Under ordinary circumstances, teachers are urged to take lessons outdoors on the day and increase playtime, but this year teachers, parents and children are being challenged to celebrate in whatever way they can. Some will plant seeds to mark the day, while others will plan outdoor activities that can be done at home.

Lynda Smith, Programme Manager for Outdoor Classroom Day in South Africa, said: “We all know that being outdoors can make us feel good, but it also has some real benefits to children – teachers tell us time and again and the research backs it up. But today’s children are spending less time outdoors than ever before and this is having a detrimental impact. Outdoor Classroom Day is about recognising this and taking steps towards making time outdoors a key part of the school day.”

Ridwan Samodien, Principal of Kannemeyer Primary School, said: “We’re getting involved on 5 November because we believe that taking learning outside the classroom is good for everyone – including the planet! When our children are outdoors, they are curious about the natural world. Observing their sense of awe as they discover bugs in nature and listening to their ideas on how we can protect the creatures we share the planet with is truly inspiring.”

Find out more about Outdoor Classroom Day at: https://outdoorclassroomday.co.za/

1 Outdoor Classroom Day survey, 2019
2 8 Louv, (2008); Dowdell, Gray & Malone (2011); Sobel (2013); Williams, (2017); Ballantyne & Packer, (2008)
3 Outdoor Classroom Day survey, 2019
4 Outdoor Classroom Day survey, 2019

About Outdoor Classroom Day
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement to inspire and celebrate outdoor play and learning, at home and at school. On Outdoor Classroom Day itself, which has two dates each year, teachers celebrate with a special day outdoors for their class.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the movement looks a bit different in 2020 – see our latest statement on Outdoor Classroom Day and coronavirus. The next Outdoor Classroom Day is coming up on 5 November 2020 and the theme is Love the Outdoors!

The global Outdoor Classroom Day movement is led by Semble and sponsored globally by Unilever’s Dirt For Good brands, Persil/OMO, which believe that when children have the freedom to explore and get stuck in to the things they care about, they learn and develop. Dirt For Good aims to support teachers, parents and carers to empower children to do good for the planet, through simple and engaging activities.

The South African movement is led by Symphonia for South Africa.