Fostering Growth – Inside and Out

This time of year offers plenty of opportunities for children to get outside. Exploring the outdoors, learning in nature and playing in the fresh air all have immense benefits for children’s physical health and cognitive development.
All year long, Old Trail takes opportunities to create learning experiences in the outdoors because of these innumerable benefits to children’s intellectual growth and overall wellness.

Academic and Health Benefits 

Research from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley shows that children who learn outdoors experience:

  • Restored attention
  • Increased creativity
  • Lower stress levels
  • Higher levels of self-discipline and concentration
  • More engaged learning
All of these skills are shared by the 21st century’s most effective leaders and also counteract the negative effects of technology. Furthermore, Vitamin D can reduce depression, increase energy and boost children’s immune systems.
This is why our education makes the most of our 62-acre campus in Cuyahoga Valley National Park – from science lessons in our solar panel field to a study of Native Americans during the fall harvest on our on-campus farm. Our new outdoor classroom hosts lessons in an array of subjects, and even our playgrounds are nature-scapes with logs and trees. Children have plenty of space to spread out without sacrificing critical learning opportunities.
Based on what we know about the spread of COVID-19, leadership at Old Trail is working on several plans to utilize the outdoors on our campus as in-person learning spaces this fall – both for the safety of our students and for the unlimited educational opportunities nature presents.

Embrace the Outdoors

With parks and outdoor recreation areas now open, we encourage parents and children to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.
In your own neighborhood or at a park, your family can replicate our students’ “daily mile” in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Time hiking in the natural world can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety and more.
Studies show that physical exercise outdoors is more effective than indoors. From driveway basketball to racing in the backyard, it’s important for children to experience the simultaneous benefits of exercise and fresh air.
Old Trail students visit our campus farm for experiential learning opportunities in science, social studies and more. Families can tend to flower or vegetable gardens together, taking time to learn about the different plants and the sunlight, moisture and nutrients they require to flourish.
Outdoor Art
We know that time outdoors can boost creativity – by about 50 percent, according to one University of Utah study. Children can apply that creativity while creating art outdoors, whether it’s painting the landscape or making inspirational sidewalk chalk drawings for your neighbors.
We encourage all families to find time to enjoy the outdoors together this summer. The natural world presents myriad opportunities for children to learn, to grow, to form cherished memories and to build close relationships.

Old Trail School is a private day school for preschool through grade eight students located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.