Cultivating Mental Well-being through Outdoor Education and Innovative Apps

Course overview

This immersive 5-day course is designed to equip educators with the knowledge and practical strategies to foster mental well-being for themselves and their students through the integration of outdoor education and innovative apps. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of mental health, well-being, and the profound connection between nature and overall well-being.

The course will delve into the key aspects of mental health, including risk factors, causes, and presentations of common issues. Emphasis will be placed on recognizing signs, implementing support strategies, and understanding the interplay between childhood development, academic performance, and mental well-being. Participants will explore mindfulness practices rooted in nature, fostering a mindful teaching approach and personal well-being.

The course will delve into the positive impact of natural surroundings on teachers and students, highlighting the benefits of outdoor education. Through interactive sessions, educators will learn mindfulness techniques inspired by nature, fostering a deeper understanding of the therapeutic effects of spending time outdoors.

Participants will engage in the exploration of curated apps designed to support mental well-being and academic success for both teachers and students. The course will provide practical guidance on seamlessly incorporating these apps into classroom and outdoor activities, aligning technology with the natural environment. Educators will discover creative ways to integrate technology into nature-based lessons, ensuring a harmonious blend of modern tools and the healing power of the outdoors.

To enhance the learning experience and provide a cultural context, the course will incorporate a guided visit to a local museum, heritage site, or eco-conscious initiative. This visit will allow participants to explore the cultural richness of the area, draw inspiration from sustainable practices, and gain insights into incorporating inclusive and green dimensions into their outdoor education and mental well-being practices.

Tentative schedule:

Day 1: Understanding mental health and well-being

  • Icebreakers and networking activities
  • Introduction to the course and participants
  • Overview of the course methodology and expectations
  • Exploring key aspects of mental health and well-being
  • Recognizing signs and implementing support strategies
  • Group discussions: Sharing personal experiences and challenges in mental well-being

Day 2: Embracing nature for mental well-being

  • The positive impact of natural surroundings on mental well-being
  • Benefits of outdoor education for teachers and students
  • Mindfulness techniques inspired by nature
  • Hands-on activities: Practicing mindfulness in nature

Day 3: Editing for inclusive visual narratives

  • Exploring curated apps for mental well-being and academic success
  • Integrating apps into classroom and outdoor activities
  • Hands-on activities: Designing nature-inspired projects using mental health apps
  • Cultural visit (e.g. museum, heritage site) guided in English to explore local heritage and sustainability practices
  • Post-visit: Sharing impressions from the cultural visit and its impact on the participants’ well-being

Day 4: Outdoor education and mental well-being

  • Combining outdoor education and mental well-being practices
  • Collaborative activities using apps to enhance mental health awareness outdoors
  • Group work: Developing nature-inspired projects for holistic well-being
  • Group review and feedback

Day 5: Course wrap-up and reflections

  • Sharing nature-inspired projects and best practices
  • Creating a positive and nature-infused learning environment
  • Course evaluation and feedback
  • Certification ceremony

The classes typically run from 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon, with the afternoon and evening reserved for self-reflection and individual study. However, the course schedule may be adjusted to accommodate the preferences of the participants and the availability of instructors or external learning locations. Participants will receive the finalized schedule well in advance, allowing ample time for preparation and planning.

Learning outcomes:

The participants will be able to:

  • Analyze the key elements of mental health and well-being, including risk factors, causes, and presentations of common issues.
  • Recognize signs of mental health concerns and implement appropriate support strategies for students and themselves.
  • Explore and adopt mindfulness practices rooted in nature, fostering personal well-being and a mindful teaching approach.
  • Evaluate the positive impact of natural surroundings on mental well-being and the benefits of outdoor education for teachers and students.
  • Integrate mindfulness techniques inspired by nature into their teaching practices and personal routines.
  • Identify and utilize curated mental health apps for personal and student benefit, aligning technology with the natural environment.
  • Design nature-inspired projects that combine mental health apps, educational tools, and outdoor activities, fostering holistic well-being.
  • Collaborate with fellow educators to share best practices, strategies, and resources for integrating outdoor education and mental well-being practices.
  • Incorporate cultural elements and inspiration from local heritage and sustainable practices into their outdoor education and mental well-being initiatives, promoting inclusive and environmentally conscious approaches.
  • Develop a comprehensive action plan for creating a positive and nature-infused learning environment that nurtures mental well-being for both themselves and their students.

Course fee:

  • 400 euro per participant (covered entirely by the Erasmus grant)

Course fee includes:

  • At least 25 hours of course content;
  • Course materials;
  • Certificate of participation;
  • Europass, on request;
  • Learning / Mobility Agreement;
  • Visits to local institutions, if available;
  • Personalized support;
  • Free high-speed WIFI internet at the POU Čakovec premises;
  • Refreshments;
  • Administration costs;
  • Dissemination materials.
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