5 Tips for Outdoor Learning in the Bangkok Heat
April is approaching. Covid-19 is still around. Extra cleaning and safety protocols are being implemented. Furthermore, using outdoor learning spaces is strongly encouraged.
However, how do we teach outdoors … in Thailand … in April?
April in Thailand is very hot! Temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius.
It is too hot! It is not practical to teach outside in April!
At Outdoor School Bangkok, the hot and bright sun does not mean it is time to go inside — it just means it is time to do things a little differently.
So, why we go to the trouble of outdoor learning in summer with children? Moreover, how do we do it?
Since journalist Richard Louv coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder in 2005 with his book, "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," increasing evidence suggests that this nonmedical condition contributes to the minimal use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses amongst children.
Besides, in Scandinavia, there is a term called friluftsliv that literally translates to 'free air life' - the urge to connect with nature, get the experiences one will not find under a roof of four walls.
Right, onto the question: How do we keep children safe during hot summer outdoor learning? We follow the Scandinavian mantra: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."
Below are ways to keep cool during summer outdoor learning:
Help children dress for the weather: Wear less layer of clothing. Opt for lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing. Use natural fibre fabrics; cotton, linen and silk work best in absorbing sweat and allow the skin to breathe and wear a hat. At Outdoor School Bangkok, students wear our 100% cotton shirts available in different fun and collectable colours.
Keep water flowing: Make sure everyone has a water bottle and a way to refill it regularly.
Plan the Outdoor Learning Environment Setting: Assess the grounds and find the areas with the most shade. Look for shade from trees or the sides of the building. Shades can be added by setting up umbrellas.
Plan Outdoor Learning Activities: To beat the summer heat, planning and preparation are important. Turning active roleplay into storytime. Instead of dressing up, running and climbing, invite children to sit down and share a story. Keep cool with ice and water activities by setting up a splash play area or try ice cube painting. These are great sensory play that promotes many learning experiences, enhances eye-hand coordination and motor skills.
Positive Mindset: There will be challenges and sweat for outdoor learning in the summer. However, we should focus on the positives and embrace the opportunity because Outdoor learning positively impacts children's physical, social, emotional, and mental health.
Preparing for the weather is a valuable way for young children to learn how to read the weather, take responsibility, and be prepared. Children become 'Resilience' - being adaptable and flexible. We can provide them with responsibility by asking, "We are all a bit warn now; what can we do?" When they come up with ideas, like let's sit in the shade or build a canopy, this is a way to encourage them to recognize and solve their problems.
Summer outdoor learning starts with you. When the mindset and the preparation is right, great learning happens and children become happier, healthier and smarter.