educational programs

Sant Bani School and the Outdoors

Why The Outdoors are Important To Us

Sant Bani School students spend an ample amount of time outside each day.  There are many reasons why, such as the developmental benefits that come from allowing kids to be kids and explore physical and natural boundaries, but perhaps most importantly is to begin teaching the lifelong skills of how to appreciate, sustainably coexist with, and take care of our home.

Ultimately, our goal is to create students who want to be outside.  With access to 200 acres of woods, trails, fields, streams, and ponds, the SBS campus is a curious child’s dream.  There is no shortage of places to explore – and that includes on our playgrounds during recess.  Additionally, Sant Bani School has multiple outdoor classrooms, and classes often venture outside on a nice day (it takes a lot for us to not consider a day to be nice), either for a formal lesson or to simply enjoy a stroll on a nearby trail.

Beyond the cognitive benefits of being outside, spending so much time on an expansive campus tasks students with taking ownership of the spaces they are using.  Examples range from the routine daily tasks such as cleaning up after ourselves after snack and lunch, to doing a campus-wide cleanup for Earth Day, and clearing hiking trails of natural debris to make them more traversable for others.

In the final strip of the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic series, Calvin says, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes ol’ buddy.  Let’s go exploring!”  We couldn’t agree more.  

How we demonstrate our commitment to the outdoors:

Every day, there are examples of the ways in which Sant Bani School works to achieve its goal of shaping students who enjoy the outdoors, such as:

  • Kindergarten raising monarch butterflies in their classroom then releasing them in the East Field during their yearly study of the monarch butterfly lifecycle and the importance of pollinators to the ecosystem;
  • First grade taking a nature walk through the woods to identify signs of fall;
  • Second grade sitting in the Middle Building’s outdoor classroom with one simple instruction: look around, and write what you observe and how it makes you feel;
  • The Cooking and Gardening enrichment group learning how to maintain and harvest the on-campus garden, and prepare healthy meals with the harvested foods;
  • Middle School science classes recording periodic data on campus with a climatologist from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest group, and discussing how collected data is used to track climate change;
  • Prior to the All-School Mountain Climb, we discuss good outdoor citizenship with students.  There aren’t many things that can silence a group of children, but taking in the early-October view of the Connecticut River Valley from a mountain summit has done just that;  
  • The Mountain Biking Club, Hiking Club, and Kayaking Club reiterate the joy of outdoor recreation.
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