Integrating Outdoor Environments in K12 Design

Spaces for outdoor learning are starting to become commonplace in K12 school design. Looking beyond playtime and growing recognition of the significant benefits associated with time spent outdoors is driving the integration and use of outdoor classrooms, gardens, and more!

Outdoor experiences promote the mental and physical health of people of all ages – and notably, at the K12 level, contribute to better student engagement, learning, and healthier social interactions.

For many schools, the availability of outdoor spaces is part of what makes it so attractive. While rural schools have advantages regarding space and campus size, most K12 schools have some outdoor areas that can be leveraged to benefit students. Taking availability to the next level centers on creating the types of spaces that draw people outside – making spaces that are engaging, easy to use for both teachers and students, and plentiful!

Make Outdoor Teaching Easy

The inclusion of outdoor chalkboards and spaces like an amphitheater or a pavilion make it easier for teachers to transition the whole class outside and have a seamless teaching experience. Encouraging teacher comfort in outdoor environments is key to their usage and achieving maximum benefits for students. Schools that decide to prioritize outdoor learning must also actively support ongoing staff development related to the confident use of outdoor spaces. The setting and tools are different, and preparing teachers for success enables students to have more freedom and a greater voice in the outdoor learning venue.

Making the interior and exterior of the school work together is an important aspect of encouraging outdoor learning.

Diversity of Space

Schools across the country are beginning to consider the different types of outdoor spaces to include on their campuses. They’re realizing that a diverse set of environments will support the holistic concept of student well-being. In addition to being a critical learning and retention tool, outdoor experiences reinforce students’ mental and physical health, critical thinking, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication skills – skills that will be equally important to their future success and growth as traditional subject matter.

Are you interested in seeing what it takes to apply these concepts to your K12 school? CMBA specializes in K12 architecture and design and would love to show you what’s possible. Click here to learn more!

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