Can We Go Outside Today?

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday.

It would be a typical day in late spring. I was in my classroom teaching science. The weather was warm, sunny and inviting. A hand would rise and the polite voice would ask, “Can we go outside for class today? Please, Mr. Eberwein.” Most sunny days the question repeated itself. What the students probably didn’t realize is that I wanted to be outside as well. However, my lessons just didn’t fit well with being outdoors so the answer was often a NO.

Prospect Lake Elementary School – Natural Playground

But, IS there some evidence that supports the idea that learning outside is beneficial — that being immersed in our natural surroundings is actually helpful while learning curriculum?

We have all heard anecdotal support for learning outside — that being in nature is calming and centering — things like going on nature hikes, being in outdoor classrooms, or taking field trips to the beach or old growth forests all are great experiences. But, I haven’t seen the empirical evidence to support that notion.

Now, three researchers have reviewed hundreds of other studies to find an answer to the question of whether being in nature makes a difference to learning.

The unequivocal answer is YES.

The review, published in February 2019 (Do Experiences With Nature Promote Learning? Converging Evidence of a Cause-and-Effect Relationship), shows that learning in nature can have profound effects on overall student achievement.

(More on Page 2)

The Importance of Sleep – Some New Research

As we head into the doldrums of the long, dark days of January I thought I’d write about the importance of sleep. We know that sleep is important and that we could all likely use more of it. However, here are some points that are worth noting again. An article from Nov 2019 lists the Top 10 Reasons for getting a good night’s sleep:

  1. Sleep keeps your heart healthy
  2. Sleep may help prevent some cancers
  3. Sleep reduces stress
  4. Sleep reduces inflamation
  5. Sleep makes you more alert
  6. Sleep improves your memory
  7. Sleep may help you lose weight
  8. Napping makes you smarter (THIS one I really like!)
  9. Sleep may help you reduce your risk of depression
  10. Sleep helps your body repair itself

(More on page 2)

Our Personal Super Power

I have three questions to start today’s post:

  1. Is there a set of ‘Super Skills’ that could propel us towards personal success?
  2. Are they something that all of us use?
  3. Can these skills be taught?

I’ve got great news. There IS something like that. And our understanding of it has existed for quite awhile. But, we need to be spending more time building awareness about it.

It’s called EXECUTIVE FUNCTION … and it’s absolutely critical to our personal success. In BC, we’ve been spending a lot of really good time talking about a number of personal competencies like: Communication, Thinking, and Personal/Social/Emotional Development. These are all really important.

It’s time we build a more universal understanding about Executive Function. This post is my way of starting that conversation.