By Teachers, For Teachers
The change of seasons from winter to spring is known to increase happiness. Research suggests that this seasonal change boosts mood as well as energy. One theory is that the increase in and exposure to daylight boosts dopamine, a naturally produced hormone which is known to promote pleasure in individuals. Teachers can take advantage of these beneficial seasonal changes and spend more time with their students completing classroom activities that take place outdoors. They can also use the effects of this seasonal change to their advantage. Here’s how.
This is a no-brainer. Going outdoors is known is to have many health benefits. Exposure to green spaces contributes to a healthier well-being, and it has a positive impact on young children. Research says that outdoor classroom activities can have a positive impact on a student’s confidence, self-esteem, communication skills and social skills. Children are able to connect with nature, get fresh air, increase their vitamin D level, and get that much-needed physical exercise. Go on a field trip, take a nature hike, and put your students’ bodies in motion. You will find that your students’ energy levels will be boosted.
This time of year, children tend to have a lot of energy which leads them to be much more curious about things. Promote your students’ natural curiosity by encouraging them to let it lead them. The increase in dopamine helps them remember information better, so now is a great time to push some boundaries and really challenge students. Take a walk outdoors and let students’ natural curiosity lead you. Take turns choosing a leader and allow them to choose where the walk takes you. You never know what you’ll find in nature. You may come upon a bird that you have never seen before, and this bird can lead your students to a new lesson or activity that will teach them more about it. This is a great way to really ignite students’ interest in learning.
While springtime means extended daylight and a boost in your mood, it also means a change in your sleep schedule. Daylight savings time and spring break vacation can have a negative impact on your sleep pattern. As the hours of daylight extend, you can have a difficult time falling and staying asleep. This can interfere with a student’s attention, memory, and other cognitive functions. Inform students to be aware of these entities and teach them to follow a strict sleep and homework schedule to help their bodies stay regular. Encourage students to get an adequate amount of sleep, and to study and play before it’s dark out.
The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the grass is as green as an emerald. All of these beautiful parts of nature are a surefire way to get your students creative minds’ flowing. Give students plenty of opportunities to be creative this spring. All students have to do is look outside for a little inspiration. Challenge students to create a spring craft, art piece, drawing, painting, or anything that they wish. Use this time of year to give them choices and be creative. You will find that your students are more confident and willing to work this time of year.
The harsh winter season is behind us, and your students have a lot of pent-up energy that they need to release. Springtime is the perfect time to get your students up and moving. If you were one to give your students brain breaks throughout the school year, now is the time to try them outdoors. All you have to do is take 5-10 minutes out of your day and go outside and let the students get that energy out. Try having students take turns following a leader and do some jumping jacks, run in place, or crazy dance. Try anything that will get them moving and get some fresh air.
Use the switch from winter to spring to your advantage. You will find your students will be happier, have an increase in their energy level and want to work. Use the effects of these seasonal changes to get students outdoors and be creative. Heed your own advice too, it’s just as important for you to get enough rest and get doors as it for your students.
What do you do to boost classroom learning in springtime? Do you have any tips or fun activities to share? Please share your comments with us in the comet section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.