This past week I have been camping in Northumbria with my son, MJ. We found a lovely farm campsite close to Hadrian’s Wall with beautiful panoramic views to the north and east. MJ is now reading voraciously. The mobile phone lost its novelty several months ago. The Nintendo Gameboy is so out-dated, MJ would not be seen dead with it in a public or private place. The variety of games we brought are fine but MJ has decided that reading is the way to pass the time in camp. Alex Rider is his new best friend along with Angus who is helping him learn about thongs and full frontal snogging.
This interests me because MJ’s behaviour qualifies research undertaken which suggests that boys may well be more receptive to literacy activities outside. Pre-school boys are will mark make – the pre-cursor to writing outside and outdoor activities can be a motivator to recount, recall and undertake imaginative work outside. Certainly a small piece of research by Norfolk County Council suggests that forest school activities lead to enthusiastic follow-up writing tasks.
Reading outside is common on holidays. Think of the thrillers, chillers and bonk buster books consumed en mass by holiday makers lying in the sun. Airport bookshops do a roaring trade. One of my conspiracy theories is that these shops in cahoots with the budget airline companies to ensure that delays happen to their advantage. The 3 for the price of 2 deals become a necessity rather than a luxury for the tourist stranded at Luton or Stanstead airports.
In a school that is en route to outdoor learning enlightenment, making provision for reading outdoors is valuable. Whilst some may consider hammocks a little overboard, warm, dry, snug places to curl up and read a book in the cooler months and little sheltered havens of shade in the summer add value to outdoor areas.
Staff also appreciate deck chairs and a place to have a quiet lunch outdoors away from the hubbub of the staff room and other indoor social areas. Think of the sense of wellbeing and rest that can be generated here. Hmm…consider the possible lines of development…nice little pool, cocktail bar, beautiful plants and being served lunch and drinks! We’d need to convert to the continental time system which means the school day started early and finished at lunch time. No teacher would be able to teach after such a leisurely lunch!
I think you can tell I’m on holiday!