Leonora is part of our Learning Team at Rainham Marshes. She is part of the team that take out school groups when they visit on curriculum linked educational visits - that is until the country went into lockdown due to Covid19.

She is now busy at home with her family - like many parents doing some homeschooling for the first time. She wanted to share some of her experience - which of course includes outdoor learning as part of it!

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Hello everyone. I'm Leonora, nice to meet you. I have worked and volunteers at Rainham Marshes for a number of years now - I'm usually with the school groups so we might not have met yet.

With the coronavirus rapidly taking over the world and everyday life, things started to shut down, which included schools.  


My children, Robin aged 9 and Solomon aged 7, LOVE school, their friends and their teachers. Every day I dropped them off to school they went skipping off without looking back. I knew that the closure of their school would hit them hard. Some parents I know were dreading it, having the pressure of working from home whilst schooling their children. I have to admit that attending virtual meetings and just writing this has been difficult with the constant interruptions.  

   First day at home school


However, I braced myself and thought that keeping a familiar routine would help them settle into their new home school. We got up at the same time as if it were a normal school day - my kids even wore their uniform on the first day of Home school but the novelty soon wore off.  On the timetable we have PE every morning with Joe Wicks, the nation’s new PE teacher, followed by English and maths, with various subjects in the afternoon, just like school. The first few weeks has on the whole  been OK, I think it may be down to the timetable of core subjects that they were familiar with and the expectation that they have to settle down and work. Even during ‘school hours’ my children would ask permission to use the toilet!

However, my children’s familiarity with their new teacher, me, and other classmate led to outbursts when work was testing and when they got on each other’s nerves. My son found it difficult to concentrate in his ‘new class room’ environment.

An upside to home schooling is getting the kids outside. Art has been drawing spring flowers, a science experiment on friction saw them timing the speed of a marble over different surfaces such as paving and grass outside, and even maths was based on measuring the area of objects in the garden.  My children really enjoyed the freedom and movement during their lesson, and my son’s engagement in a subject was heightened. Whenever I could I have been getting them outside – it’s my mission in life. If you can I urge you to give it a try. Do lessons outside, or enjoy your daily walks. (There will be some links at the end of this post to help your in your outdoor learning.)

 Outdoor art class - spring flowers

Personally and as a parent I limit the time spent in front of the telly and on devices. There’s a beautiful world outside to experience, and having your head stuck in a device is criminal.  However, despite my reluctance to use and embrace new technologies I have now found myself facing a very steep learning curve!!

 Time to sit and watch nature


Jump forward two weeks into lockdown and my children and I are Zooming and having video conference calls to keep in touch with their class mates. I even had virtual dinner party with friends.  I’m now appreciating that online learning has its place. With a huge variety of subjects for my children to access from online maths quizzes, geography lessons using Google Earth and virtual libraries, the combination of the natural and the virtual can keep home learning engaging. Well, fingers crossed. Here’s to next term…

If you would like to do more with your children and their learning using the outdoors you can have a look at the following:

  • Follow @RSPB_Learning on Twitter - celebrating and supporting teachers to connect children with wildlife and nature through quality outdoor learning
  • Have a look at (and join) the RSPB's Wild Challege - it's a way for families to explore nature with children and take part in loads of different fun activities and earn online badges... there are lots of activities that would work really well in your garden or during your daily walks.
  • Wildlife Stories - there are some wonderful childrens stories about wildlife on the RSPB website - you can read one yourself, or listen to some rather famous faces read to you.
  • RSPB Teaching resources - there are some great resources available on the website
Anonymous