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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Preschoolers should go outside everyday

With the leaves starting to change, so too is the weather. Whether the weather is cold or hot where you live, it is important for preschoolers to get out of the building and go outside to exercise, explore, play, and enjoy some fresh air.

Outdoor play fosters positive opportunties for growth and development

  • Cognitively: preschoolers are exposed to new words and ideas such as cold, hot, and warm; trees, leaves, flowers, and dirt; snow and ice; clouds, wind, and rain.
  • Socially: preschoolers often use their imaginations and role play more actively when playing outdoors.
  • Emotionally: preschoolers build self-confidence as they explore and interact with nature.
  • Physically: preschoolers get much needed exercise and they get to release some of that pent up energy.
Decide to go outside
Once the weather starts to get colder, it is tempting to decide that outdoor time is not that important. Often times, this is because the cold weather bothers adults more than it does children. Put the needs of children first by making the decision to go outside. Bring a warm jacket and some gloves for yourself if needed, but don't let cooler weather discourage you from taking preschoolers outside.

Plan to go outside
Outdoor play should include time for freeplay and exploration but teachers can also include outdoor activities in their lesson plans. By including an outdoor activity, teachers will make sure their students get to go outside. Planned activities can include ideas like...
  • Going on a leaf hunt or bug hunt
  • Painting outside with leaves, tree limbs, rocks, or other items from nature
  • Packing an outdoor snack pack or picnic lunch
  • Bringing a paper bag outside and taking a nature walk to collect items from nature
  • Adding interesting items to use during outdoor play like magnifying glasses, plastic bug jars, and rakes
  • Adding interesting items that you wouldn't ordinarily think of as "out doorsy" like step ladders, paint brushes, easels, plastic dishes, and a variety of kid safe tools.
Educate your parents on the importance of outdoor play
Parents will often worry that outdoor play isn't appropriate for their child once weather starts to change. Take time to share resources with your parents as to the benefits of outdoor play. In this link ChildcareAware provides parents information about why outdoor play is important for preschoolers including infants, toddlers, and up.

Click here to See this innovative approach towards bringing preschool into the great outdoors. Once you see this video, it is hard to come up with excuses as to why most preschoolers shouldn't spend time outside.

Be sure to Follow My Blog for future information on early childhood education.
Going outside creates great teachable moments - see more about teachable moments.

Copyright ©2009 Deborah J. Stewart; All Rights Reserved!


balmeras said...

Great post! Time in nature is so important for kids (and all of us!). Really glad yo see you bring attention to the topic for the ECE audience. I blog quite a bit about it on The Grass Stain Guru.

Cheers- Bethe @balmeras

Anonymous said...

We are located in a house and unfortunately during the winter it's very difficult to go outside because of the ice and mud once the snow starts melting. We look for lots of opportunities to bring the outdoors inside for the kids to explore. We also take lots of walks when it isn't icy.
Our biggest obstacle is getting the parents to bring/send hats, mittens, boots, coats, etc appropriate for the weather. We've had kids some in wearing crocks on a day with sub zero temps. Any suggestions on that?

Deborah J. Stewart said...

You do pose a challenging situation for sure:) My suggestions are based on what I see the teachers here do.

1. Start by educating parents on the importance of times outdoors. Even 15 minutes a day (like the walks you take) helps improve mental and physical health. In addition, outdoor time promotes all kinds of learning and experiences. For example, learning to put on coats and mittens, discovering their world, exploring the elements, and so forth.

2. Send Reminders: As you educate parents about the importance of outdoor time, also remind them of what they need to do to help their child have a successful preschool experience such as dressing or sending in the appropriate clothing for going outdoors. Some parents are just in a hurry and need reminders about what you are expecting or what their child is needing in order to get the most out of their day.

3. When you do go outside, be sure to send home notices that highlight what the children got to do and experience from their time outdoors so parents know their efforts are appreciated.

4. Set new policies - in the schools here there are policies regarding shoes and clothing. Such as crocks are not allowed for two reasons, safety and the fact that they do not offer children the opportunity to learn how to snap, tie, or buckle. In addition, at some schools, crocks are not allowed because they do not offer appropriate support for growing feet as well as developmental skills such as running, walking, and jumping.

Finally, as a last resort, ask parents to keep an extra winter clothing items at the school that are only used for school or ask for donations of winter wear that you can keep for those who simply forget. But first and foremost - I would recommend educating and reminding parents so they get into better practices of insuring their child is successfully prepared for school!

I hope this is helpful,

Anonymous said...

Actually they are totally different..I like this post..I will recommend this to my friends.Thanks for this.Appreciate it!

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