Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the first annual Outdoor Learning Week (OLW) will be held from September 27 to October 1 of this year to encourage learning outside of the traditional classroom setting.
“It has had overwhelming bipartisan support, which is really great,” said Stephanie Haan-Amato, director of communications and development at Environmental Education of New Mexico (EENM).
Outdoor Learning Week is the result of Senate Memorial 1, which was passed this year by the New Mexico state legislature. Governor Grisham has declared September 29 Outdoor Learning Day, which is also expected to recur annually.
“Any subject can be taught outside, so we try to have as many teachers as possible, to take their lessons outside – either on their school grounds or on field trips. field with local organizations across New Mexico, ”said Haan- Amato.
School districts may choose to fund outdoor learning activities, such as Federal Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools (ESSER) through the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security), which aims to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in schools.
OLW is timely, according to Haan-Amato, as teachers and families are concerned about cases of COVID being transmitted in classrooms. The Senate Memorial 1 aimed to alleviate some concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 inside the classroom by encouraging learning outside; the measure adds that “outdoor classrooms are more important than ever and are being used successfully across the country during the pandemic.”
The potential benefits for student learning and well-being were central to the founding of OLW. Senatorial Measure 1 adds that “students who learn outside develop a sense of autonomy, independence, confidence, creativity and decision-making skills.” The measure also suggests that outdoor learning can improve attendance and lead to better test scores.
“We hope the benefits will extend far beyond the pandemic … the sense of discovery children get from being outside is unmatched by anything they can do in the classroom,” Haan-Amato said.
In Taos, an example of OLW can be found at Vista Grande High School, where Vista Grande High School has an elective class focused on sustainable agriculture.
Instructor Nora Corbett said the students gain experience “harvesting carrots and potatoes, processing beans, cooking recipes they brought home, helping prepare for planting. garlic ”. The school will also have other outdoor learning programs next week.
More information about OLW can be found on the New Mexico Environmental Education website or by calling (505) 859-3366.