The outdoor learning center at Lukancic Middle School gives teachers a tool for connecting the classroom and nature.
Nature nurtures learning. Being outdoors gives children a healthy dose of “green” that fosters development and supports growth in every way: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical. Simply getting outside can deliver measurable benefits, and schools like Lukancic Middle School in Romeoville are providing teachers a tool to take advantage of all that nature can offer with an outdoor learning center.
The Romeoville, Ill.-based school is the first in the Valley View School District to have a dedicated outdoor learning center designed to connect children with nature, and to promote effective learning outside of the classroom. “Two of the biggest concerns today with students are attention-related learning issues and obesity, and these outdoor learning centers address both and give teachers a platform for teaching in a natural environment,” says Nicole Bradley, Marketing Manager at Sebert Landscape.
The outdoor learning center at Lukancic Middle School was a natural extension of Sebert Landscape's corporate commitment to giving back and sheer passion for plants and nature. This year alone, Sebert Landscape hosted a number of community events, including a Come Alive Outside event at the Huntley Park District that drew more than 750 people who were interested in reconnecting with the outdoors. Next year they will host three Come Alive Outside events, and by 2018 they plan on hosting at least five.
“To us, the outdoor learning center goes beyond construction,” Bradley relates. “We don’t just go in and put in a learning center and leave. We are providing resources for teachers, staff, students and the community guiding them on ways to use the space.”
The project goes far beyond design-and-build, she explains. Sebert partnered with the school district to: dream it, design it and create. “The project will be a true success when we use it and integrate it,’” Bradley says.
With the outdoor learning center at Lukancic, teachers now have a valuable teaching tool right outside their classroom doors. “It’s about getting children outside, and in the society we live in today many times kids are not going outdoors,” points out Principal Tricia Rollerson, who was instrumental in this project. “The outdoor learning center is a calm area—a very focused area. Our teachers are very excited about the opportunity.”