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“Nature deficit disorder” – bet you’ve never heard of it, have you?
In 2005, Richard Louv coined this phrase to describe the condition that children who aren’t exposed to the outdoors much may suffer from. Symptoms include feelings of apathy and alienation. After an initial panic along with further studies by the National Trust and other similar organizations, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot is being done about it.
One way that parents and tutors can help battle nature deficit disorder is to allow children to carry out some of their studies outdoors. After a long day sitting inside the classroom, the last thing a child wants to do is come home and sit at a desk to study. So many other young students spend their free time in front of the TV playing video games or hanging around with their friends – the idea of studying outside might not be too appealing.
Understandably, the climate can play a huge factor in whether outdoor study is feasible, and if the climate is suitable, then creating a designated study area for children is something that might be worth considering. Recent studies of school children have suggested that not only can academic performance be improved by outdoor study, but behavior and overall well-being can improve too!
Despite the findings being rather conclusive, the amount of designated outdoor study areas still remains very low. The cost, time, and effort involved in getting a canopy fitted at home or indeed a school is high, not to mention the amount of work teachers may have to put in to adapting lesson plans to ensure they’re suitable for the outdoors.
Forgetting schools for a second though, it’s perhaps easier to adapt a home space for outdoor study. One thing to bear in mind however is that there is much more to consider than just where to stick a desk. It’s important to create a space that is comfortable and, more importantly, creates the right atmosphere to promote this learning style.
One thing that won’t change however is the issue of safety. This, as always, should be a huge priority and it’s key is to complete the usual checks to ensure that all desks, chairs and other furnishings are safe for children. It’s also extremely important to make sure that they are durable enough to be kept outside and won’t be too affected by adverse weather (whether it’s raining heavily or blistering sun). This is where a canopy or gazebo may come in useful again to ensure that not only the children, but their study area and materials are also kept safe.
The transition from indoor to outdoor study will provide a few challenges for not only the students, but also parents and teachers. Once the inevitable teething problems are solved however, a improvement in academic performance and behavior should be there for all to see.
Jack Oldham is a journalism graduate blogging on behalf of Canopies UK, who specialize in a number of canopies, carports, smoking shelters and many more structures.