It’s Natural to Learn Outside

Learning in the natural landscape outside of the classroom carries many advantages for both students and teachers, but its implementation is not always so simple. The keys to success are support from parents, the school principal, a few fanatically devoted teachers and the local authority. For this purpose, the Education Division at Ramat Hanadiv provides a supportive framework throughout the year.


In September 2018 “Beit HaYa’ar” (the forest house) opened in the Galilee – the first school in Israel wholly devoted to learning in natural landscapes with the support of the Ministry of Education. Children leaning in this primary school come daily to the Israeli woodland which is part of the learning campus of Merom Galil Regional Council, and learn according to a defined study programme that combines reading, writing, mathematics, and emotional and social skills, as well as forest skills, handicrafts and more.

But children do not need to learn daily in the forest in order to enjoy the advantages of learning outside the classroom. More and more ‘classic’ schools of the Ministry of Education have in recent years realised the advantages of children spending time in the natural landscape and have begun implementing a range of study programmes outside the classroom – from going to a nearby park for a mathematics lesson to an entire day learning in nearby nature and closer acquaintance with it.

כנס לאנשי חינוך וסביבה

The Advantages of Learning Outside

Learning in the natural landscape carries diverse benefits for children. The largest study to date in this field took place in England, during the years 2012-2016, with government support. As part of the study, positive results, including enjoyment of lessons, a connection to nature, social skills, involvement in learning, health and a feeling of wellbeing, were observed among over 90% of the students. Greater achievement was recorded for 57% of them. Similarly, 70-80% of teachers reported improvements in teaching, in the feeling of health and wellbeing, in professional development and in the feeling of satisfaction.

In Israel, formally, there is still a long road ahead. ‘The Ministry of Education encourages learning outside the classroom but does not require this to be assimilated into schools. Each school decides for itself whether and how it will teach outside and to what extent,’ says Gomeh Sheffer, Director of Education at Ramat Hanadiv.


enjoyment of lessons, a connection to nature, social skills, involvement in learning, health and a feeling of wellbeing, were observed among over 90% of the students


At Ramat Hanadiv we routinely promote the field of learning outside through training and continuing education courses for teachers, and community meetings of educational staff, parents and anyone who feels strongly about this issue. ‘Ramat Hanadiv places great value on students going out to the natural space, because beyond all that has been proven by research, it encourages curiosity and a connection to the environment, society and sustainability; it turns the children into more active and involved citizens in their space.’

A Conference for Educators and Environmentalists

On June 25, a conference was held at Ramat Hanadiv with the participation of about 100 educators from the region; it included eight workshops run by experts working daily in a range of fields: nature therapy, observing nature, learning through gardening, creating with natural materials, forest education, wisdom of nature cards, citizen science and games.

The conference was planned for March, the peak of the school year, but

although it was postponed due to COVID-19, it was decided to hold it anyway, in order to emphasise the importance of this issue and keep it on the educational agenda. Click here for a summary of the conference and the workshops (in Hebrew).


For learning outside the classroom to be effective, it must be a permanent part of the timetable, just like a sport or mathematics lesson


On the Obstructions and Stumbling Blocks along the Way

The participants in the conference and in all the activities of Ramat Hanadiv in this field report that they acquire ideas and tools and feel that they are not alone but it is not easy to implement this approach in schools. ‘There are a number of stumbling blocks and obstructions on the way to implementing learning outside of the classroom in schools,’ says Gomeh, ‘not all teachers connect to the physical space or see its value. Some of them area scared of losing control of the children outside, in contrast to the closed classroom. There is also the technical stumbling block of bureaucracy and approvals, but the greatest obstruction is the pressure that is created many times by the parents themselves who oppose the idea of their children going outside. Learning outside the classroom is most successful in schools that have community support from the parents and the council or municipality, from the principal and from a few teachers for whom this issue is particularly dear.’

For learning outside the classroom to be effective, it must be a permanent part of the timetable, just like a sport or mathematics lesson, whether a few hours a week or on a fixed day.

Join Us on the Journey

We thank everyone who came to the conference and didn’t give up despite the postponement and the re-registration. ‘We feel that we are managing to reach new audiences who are acquiring inspiration, tools and knowledge and increasingly understanding the importance of learning outside,’ says Gomeh. ‘I am sure that in the end we will also see more formal incorporation of this issue in the Ministry of Education. We are talking about a journey that is like climbing a tall mountain. We are currently at the beginning, but it’s clear that we will reach the top.’

If you are educators or parents for whom the issue is very dear, and want to learn more about the issue and promote it, we at Ramat Hanadiv invite you to be partners in this journey. You are invited to join our educational community in promoting learning in natural spaces, and acquire more information and tools on this issue throughout the year. Click here for further details and to join the community (in Hebrew).

Some pictures from the last conference:

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