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Top Ten Tips for teaching outdoors

Prepare for taking learning outside the classroom with our top ten tips for teaching outdoors.

  1. Think about what your learners will need – warm, waterproof clothing, drinks, sensible shoes etc – and make sure you and other adults lead by example (no handbags); check out our guide to group leader responsibilities.
  2. Organise the learners into groups before you go outside, so that they all know who they are working with; assign an adult to each group if possible.
  3. Plan your work area in advance – set clear boundaries (For example, no one is allowed past this tree or everyone must be able to see my backpack hanging from this branch).
  4. The sun should be in your eyes, not in the learner’s eyes – otherwise they won’t be able to see you properly.
  5. Be aware of noise – some learners may not be able to hear you over the sound of the wind or rain. It's a great opportunity to get the kids active rather than sitting still and listening.
  6. Be prepared for a change in weather conditions – have a plan for what to do if it starts to rain; also be prepared for someone to need the toilet – decide what you are going to do if this happens.
  7. Learners will behave differently outdoors – some may be frightened if it is their first visit to a forest; others will be overexcited – give them all the opportunity to explore, experience and enjoy their visit (even if it means having more ‘free time’ than you wanted to).
  8. Decide how you will get the learners ‘back to base’ when they have finished each activity – a whistle or a particular call works well.
  9. Laminate all paper resources (or put them into plastic pockets), and don’t expect the learners to be able to write on paper – find other ways to record your experiences, for example, taking photos.
  10. Finally, enjoy the experience, don’t get too hung up on results and assessment, just watch the learners and be amazed at what they achieve and how they develop.
Last updated: 22nd June 2017

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.