Bangalore: Action for Children’s Environments or ACE, an NGO and a charitable trust working towards creating safe, healthy, inclusive and resilient living environments, for children and young people is calling on teachers across India to take at least one lesson outdoors on Thursday, October 12, 2017, as part of the global Outdoor Classroom Day campaign.
The campaign is a response to the decline in the time that children spend outdoors. Research has found that 56% of children globally play outside for one hour or less each day1 – that’s less than the two-hour guideline for maximum security prisoners in the US. Furthermore, in India, 56% of parents believe their child has less opportunities to play than they did as a child1
In India, primary school students spend about 51 hours more in classrooms that their OECD counterparts annually, and research shows that if more time is allocated for recess, there will be a greater willingness to study among students.2
Seventy Nine per cent of children report that having time to play at school helps them to concentrate in lessons.3
In fact, in some cases such as in Puducherry, India, only a 15-minute recess is given during the six-hour school day. The same is true for many schools across all states in India. Shrinking of play space in Indian schools, due of lack of land in cities, poses another problem. Almost half of India’s children have no playground at school. 4
In response to similar situations as above, in 2016, almost half a million children around the world, got involved in Outdoor Classroom Day by having their lessons outside (within and outside school premises) and celebrating playtime. And 92% of schools agreed that children engaged more with their learning outdoors!5
Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater understanding of nature. Moreover, as per a study conducted, opportunities for spontaneous play may be the only requirement that young children need to increase their physical activity.6 Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.
ACE is not alone in its drive to reconnect children with the outdoors. Thousands of schools across the world are taking part and India’s teachers are being urged to join them. To date, 2,102,579 children around the globe are getting involved! The NGO believes that getting outdoors to play and learn isn’t just ‘nice to have’, but is critical for children’s development.
Dr. Sudeshna Chatterjee, CEO of ACE Trust said, “We’re calling on teachers, parents and anyone who cares about childhood to get involved in the campaign on October 12th, 2017. Whether that’s by taking a class outdoors, encouraging your child’s school to sign up, or helping spread the message far and wide, everyone can do something to make sure children across the country experience the benefits of playing and learning outdoors.”
There are lots of resources available to support people to take action at: https://outdoorclassroomday.in/. Get involved in Outdoor Classroom Day and help make sure children across the country have happy childhoods and are well prepared for the future.
The global Outdoor Classroom Day is led by Project Dirt, in partnership with Unilever as part of their Dirt is Good movement.