Implementing The Walking Classroom in an afterschool or other out-of-school time setting is a little different than rolling the program out in a school day classroom setting! Read on for some suggestions (and a few extra tips!) we’ve accumulated to help you maximize the benefits of The Walking Classroom at your site.
Timing is Everything
Use the program at a time that doesn’t require club members to choose between The Walking Classroom and their much-needed free play. The Walking Classroom is not meant to replace free time/play, but is intended to be a supplemental resource for club members to gain additional physical activity and build academic background knowledge.
Try to use the program at least two to three times a week. This allows club members the opportunity to get used to the new way of learning and it helps to establish a routine.
Location, Location, Location
Choose an outdoor area that has an easy walking surface for your walks. Why not enjoy nature by following a trail through a park? A track is fine, but repeatedly walking in a circle can become a little boring!
For an especially enriching opportunity, find a podcast that correlates with something within the community, like a park, historic site, or other location, and take a walking field trip there!
Facilitators, Be Prepared!
Any staff member who is implementing the program should complete the online training. We find that folks who complete the training have the most successful (and positive!) experience with the program.
Have staff members listen to the podcast ahead of time if at all possible. Also be sure that they are listening while doing the walk with the club members. It is helpful to have staff members modeling good listening while walking!
Think of fun and interesting ways to engage club members during the discussion component. Remember, our suggestions in the Discussion Guide are just that — suggestions!
Other Tips and Tricks to Try
- The Walking Classroom works especially well when implemented during the academic/literacy component at most out-of-school sites. This would be during periods like Power Hour or Stop, Drop, Read, for example.
- You can also use the program right before homework time. This allows club members to get some physical activity and fresh air, and in turn, reduces the amount of fidgeting and restlessness at homework time. An added benefit? Exercise before homework prepares the brain for learning.
- If possible, align the podcast with what the club members are learning at school. This provides club members with context and helps them make connections.
- Finally, remember to regularly visit The Walking Classroom website for additional teacher/facilitator resources, visual aids, and suggestions for extending the lesson!