Udeskole, Bringing the Outdoors to Your Next School Retreat
After reading about the concept of udeskole, we knew we wanted to blog about it and share our thoughts on how it relates to school retreats!
The concept of bringing students outside into nature is not a novel idea, but it is one that deserves attention now more than ever. With obesity rates on the rise and children (and adults too!) living such sedentary lifestyles, building the outdoors into the educational curriculum is such a necessary idea. Udeskole is a Scandanavian concept that literally means “outdoor school.” Udeskole targets children between the ages of 7 and 16, and includes mandatory educational activities outside of the school walls on a regular basis (like once per week or every other week.)
“Udeskole can take place in both natural and cultural settings, i.e. forests, parks, local communities, factories, farms, galleries, theaters, etc. Teachers may draw on history and development of the local community to create a closer link between schools, community, and local places.” – Jordet
There are many ways that udeskole can be implemented, and once you get thinking about it, once per week might not even seem like enough! You could teach geography by taking students outside and having them describe the natural area. You could strengthen writing skills by taking students to a beautiful spot in nature and having them write poems or descriptive imagery about it. You could practice multiplication tables by creating a game and playing it at a local park. You could explain percentages by having students guess the percentage of trees in a forest, and then help them calculate the volume of trees in a certain area. For so many school subjects, there are ways to incorporate the outside world, it just takes a little creativity and imagination!
There are countless benefits for children spending time outdoors in udeskole. Within minutes of seeing green spaces, a child’s stress level falls. Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and listening. Being in a natural environment even helps enhance children’s eyesight and strengthens their peripheral vision! (source). Children’s cognitive development improves when they are exposed to natural environments and their awareness, reasoning, and observational skills are strengthened. Natural environments stimulate social interaction between children. Childhood experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination, and that sense of wonder is a strong motivator for lifelong learning. (source). The benefits go on and on, and yet so many schools are still not incorporating this concept into their curricula!
If you are unable to incorporate outdoor learning on a regular basis, including an outdoor school retreat, like one to Trout Lake, is so crucial for reaping these benefits in children. Even taking a few days to participate in outdoor activities can product an effect in a child and can foster group cohesion through the shared experience. Things like nature walks, stargazing, team-building in the woods, as well as studying the natural habitat around them, are all activities guests can participate in at a Trout Lake school retreat!