This Fall, Park Creek School Early Intervention and English Learner teacher Vanesa Vazquez is leading students outside of their traditional classrooms and into the woods to experience outdoor learning.
Park Creek’s outdoor learning environment is just a short walk from the main building and is complete with seating as well as a white board area.
In the future, Vazquez hopes to obtain grants for the space, allowing her to expand the classroom’s capabilities and curriculum.
Vazquez said the inspiration for Park Creek’s outdoor classroom came from Brookwood School’s own outdoor classroom. After visiting over the summer, she knew it would be an excellent addition to Park Creek’s already expansive outdoor curriculum.
“I thought it would be a great idea for our students to investigate and research the surrounding ecosystem,” Vazquez said. “We have the forest, trails, gardens and stream with an endangered species of fish, so I think this is a great learning opportunity for them.”
Vazquez said outdoor learning helps foster creativity, problem-solving, independence and confidence. Science, math, reading and writing can also all be impacted by this outdoor learning space.
“Having this outdoor learning space can enhance learning opportunities for our students,” Vazquez said. “Teachers can improve their instruction and provide innovative learning opportunities. Moving instruction out of the same four walls can engage all learners, and our students can feel like scientists while investigating and researching the ecosystems around Park Creek.”
Principal Will Esters is a frequent advocate for getting students up and out of their traditional classrooms to experience learning hands-on.
The trails and outdoor learning area are part of a larger initiative that involves many local, state and federal partners working together to help kids understand how things are interconnected,” Esters said. “We really want students to understand how systems work.”
He said this is just one step in Park Creek’s goal to provide students with meaningful learning opportunities.
“Being outside to see how plants change with the seasons or to experience weather like cold, hot, wind, rain etc. helps them understand things in ways that books and buildings can’t always clearly communicate,” Esters said.
To read more about Park Creek’s outdoor learning opportunities, visit their website.