The majority of our school day is spent outside. The bulk of this time is free play. Upon the children's requests, we read outside, sing outside, play instruments outside, and have snack outside. They also paint, rest, climb, slide, swing, wash clothes and play with balls outside.
After reading The Last Child in the Woods I became steadfast in my decision that time spent outdoors would be an integral part of any classroom I ran.
When I moved from Seattle to Los Angeles I spent weeks looking into schools to teach at. The first thing I looked at on any schools website was their outdoor space. I was so thrilled to see the lovely yard that would be available for the children where I chose to teach.
Study after study show the many many benefits of time spent outside in nature; they also show that most children are spending less and less time outside.
Time spent outside is important at any age, but I think especially so in the first three years. We do a huge disservice to young children when we spend hours preparing the indoor environment and give no thought to their outdoor space. To me, a well prepared outdoor space has areas for gross motor movement, vestibular stimulation, art, water play, rest and most importantly a variety of living things to connect with.
This month I plan to read more about loose parts and evolve the space to incorporate more opportunities to use them. I am not yet sure how to will look in our space, but one thing is for sure though Erin Kenny said it best in her book Forest Kindergartens "Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take the walls away."