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Outdoor Classroom Day 2020: encouraging outdoor play to improve children’s learning and health

The global Outdoor Classroom Day movement brought together teachers, parents and children in a celebration of outdoor learning and play on 5 November 2020. In response to the Coronavirus crisis, the movement looked a bit different

Not just about a single day, this campaign aims to get as many children as possible playing and learning outside every day.

Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them in learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.

Today’s children spend less and less time playing and learning outdoors. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, over half the world’s children were spending under an hour a day playing outside. This is why it is now more crucial than ever before to bring outdoor play and learning to the forefront of conversations about children’s health and well-being. Through Outdoor Classroom Day, schools had the opportunity to spearhead a shift in the way children spend their days by influencing policymakers.

Fortunately, the Covid-19 restrictions have been eased in South Africa, but the pandemic has ushered in many anxiety-provoking changes, and connecting to nature can help restore a lost sense of well-being. For children, this connection is best made through play – whether outdoors in nature or indoors with natural elements – and it makes them happier and healthier and can produce positive habits that stick with them for life. If children develop a love for the natural world, they will start taking action to protect it.

The global Outdoor Classroom Day campaign was led by SEMBLE, a social enterprise that creates campaigns to connect purpose-driven businesses with community projects. For a third year, Symphonia for South Africa proudly led the movement in South Africa.