10 Steps to Start Your Own Outdoor Education Program

Ready to start your outdoor classroom? Follow these 10 steps get your outdoor education program up and running NOW. No need to wait for September!

Your go-to guide for all things nature education.

Step 1: Buy and read Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Nothing else will make sense until you have read it. And trust me, you’re going to want to have your own personal copy. This will become your go-to guide for all things outdoor education.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out my eBook, Teaching Outside: 20 Quick & Easy Outdoor Education Activities for Children.

Step 2: Identify an outdoor classroom site (yard, garden, park, forest, etc.) and find a regular time in your weekly schedule to visit the site.

Step 3: Write your yearlong scope & sequence and align it to your school or district’s standards or benchmarks. Feeling extra ambitious? Crank out a few lesson plans too. (Short on time? Check out the Shop for some ready-to-go plans.)

Be ready to tell the powers-that-be all the amazing benefits of nature education.

Step 4: Prepare your proposal for your school’s administration.

a. Compile relevant research supporting the benefits of outdoor edcuation programs.

b. Conduct a benefit-risk analysis.

c. Anticipate questions & concerns regarding safety, adult supervision, loss of academic classroom time, scheduling constraints, etc. Be prepared with thorough, data-driven responses to all these questions.

d. Practice your spiel until you feel super confident and ready to be firm but polite (and not take no for an answer!).

Need help with this step? I have experience writing these proposals, and I’d love to help you!

Step 5: Request a meeting with your school’s administration and then blow their socks off with your awesome, data-rich presentation! Who can say no to some hard facts and figures?

Step 6: Educate and notify parents and guardians (see FAQs). Get permission slips/releases signed as necessary. While you’re at it, ask them to volunteer as a chaperone on your first outing.

Children don’t have to be taught how to be creative when they play in nature.

Step 7: Schedule your first forest lesson.

Step 8: Gather materials for your first lesson (Remember, safety first: First Aid Kit, any student medications, emergency forms, cell phones or walkie talkies, etc.).

Step 9: Explain your outdoor edcuation program to your students. Establish ground rules/guidelines/expectations with them.

Step 10: Go outside!




Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Thank you!