Education Matters

Mental health benefits of outdoor education

Posted by Trinity Grammar School on Aug 6, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Mental health benefits of outdoor educationIn today’s technology-based world children can become heavily exposed to digital technology. Research shows that the more time that children spend interacting with technology, the less time they spend outdoors. It is thought that children today spend just 10 percent of their time outdoors, compared to their parents who spent at least 40 percent of their time outside. The implications of reduced outdoor exposure can be significant, especially in terms of health and wellbeing. The mental health benefits of outdoor education are particularly meaningful.

Outdoor education programmes can have a significant impact on personal growth. Even boys who do not demonstrate much interest in traditional forms of physical activity, can find meaning and achieve success through more novel physical experiences common to outdoor education programmes such as abseiling, hiking, surfing or mountain biking. Boys are biologically engineered to be active, and they enjoy taking risks so outdoor education programmes are often a natural fit for them.

Promoting physical activity in the outdoors is also a positive step toward reducing screen time. Research has shown that increased screen time is associated with lower psychological wellbeing, less emotional stability and lower self-control. The Australian Government’s recommendations for screen time is limited to two hours per day. However, it’s estimated that over half of Australian children aged four to 13 are exceeding the daily limit.

At Trinity Grammar School, we understand the importance of taking boys outdoors and fieldwork plays a significant part of our education programme. Spending time in nature is an excellent way to introduce fun to classroom learning and create an exciting environment for growth. However, it’s also a great way to improve mental and physical wellbeing. We uncover some of the mental health benefits of outdoor education here:

1. Promotes a healthy lifestyle
The mental health benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle are well known. Children are naturally drawn to spending time outside. Studies show that when a child spends more time in nature, they become motivated to increase their physical activity and have a greater chance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.

2. Enhances connectivity
Being outside encourages children from all age groups to have fun in an environment where creativity and play can naturally occur. Nature provides children the opportunity to explore, wonder and play, and is a great playground for games and sports. Participation in the outdoors not only increases connectivity with the natural environment, but it strengthens the relationships and friendships that have been built in class.

3. Improves focus and concentration
Studies show that outdoor education can improve both focus and concentration in the classroom. With as little as just 15 minutes outside the classroom, research shows that stress hormones in the brain are reduced. Nature has a calming effect, improves short-term memory, helps to eliminate fatigue, and reduces both anxiety and depression. All of these benefits help to enhance a child’s ability to stay focused. In fact, children with ADHD who spent just 20 minutes in the outdoors demonstrated increased focused and concentration.

For over a hundred years Trinity has educated boys in mind, body and spirit, and we are constantly evolving our teaching methods to ensure our boys receive the best education possible. Our outdoor education opportunities enhance the holistic approach to the education journey of boys from Year 3. Our state-of-the-art Field Studies Centre allows for the integration of skills such as problem solving, organisation, teamwork, leadership and judgement, as well as academic and physical pursuits. We actively encourage boys to lean in to challenges to better prepare them for life beyond school.

Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture each student to help him realise his potential, passion and purpose in life, ensuring that every Trinity boy is challenged, inspired and guided to become a successful, compassionate, internationally-minded man.

To learn more about the Trinity difference and to discover why we’re one of Australia’s leading schools for boys, download our prospectus.

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Topics: Outdoor education, Trinity difference, Risk-taking, Boys learning, Education, Mental health