Make Your Outdoor Space an Extension of Your Indoor Learning

Getting our preschool students outdoors is of great benefit to their development. Establishing outdoor time as part of the daily routine, for play and learning is a must in any program. Much of what is done in the classroom can be easily translated to the outdoor environment. This can be done by incorporating how we use and design our indoor space to our outdoor learning space.

Safety is always top priority in anything we do with our preschoolers. You should constantly evaluate your outdoor learning environment to ensure the equipment and space is safe and free from preventable risks. You must consider fall zones, surfaces, access to shade, and the condition of materials and equipment. Carefully design outdoor learning areas to support a full range of children’s play and activities. You can create interest areas, just as you do for your indoor spaces. Outdoor learning environments should be designed as intentionally as indoor learning environments. Incorporating elements from your indoor space to your outdoor space is essential. Incorporating different areas or centers outdoors like those of your inside classroom such as art, writing,science, dramatic play, and so on can help design your outdoor space.

Preschoolers benefit from the outdoors, fresh air, sunshine, open space, exposure to nature, and experiences with natural materials. They have opportunities to grow and learn, affecting all areas of development. Children can be supported by reflecting on the importance of outdoor experiences, asking open-ended questions, and planning ways to include these experiences in learning. Consider how to extend the learning that takes place indoors to the outdoor environment. Take note of the ideas, materials, or supports that are used by the students, think about how these can meet developmental goals, and encourage similar learning in your outdoor space.

Make the most of the space you have. Not all outdoor spaces are ideal, but that does not mean you have to settle and use your space as is. Use your creativity to develop an environment where your students can learn an thrive. Make us of the natural elements of your space and incorporate them and use them in your lessons.

Just as in the indoor classroom, you must ensure that your outdoor spaces are organized for independence, easy use, and learning. Children must be able to easily access materials and equipment. As always, when designing outdoor spaces, consider the needs of individual children. Some children, especially those with special needs, may need extra support in the outdoor environment. You can make adaptations for these children just as you would in the classroom. Getting our children back to the outdoors and reaping the benefits it provides is crucial. Extending what we do in our indoor classrooms to the outdoors is not difficult, is enjoyable and will be of great benefit to all.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Discovering Life Science with Young Children

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CUR131: Discovering Life Science with Young Children, as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users June 1-30, 2024.

Life science refers to the study of living organisms and life processes. For young children, the study of life science revolves around exploring the natural world, exposure to basic concepts, practicing scientific thinking skills, and developing basic domain-related vocabulary.  Exploration of the life sciences can also promote a lifelong interest in nature and the role of humans as responsible environmental stewards.  Ultimately, science should excite the children′s imagination and leave them wanting to learn more.

As they advance in the academic world, children will encounter increasingly complex, challenging concepts in science classes. That sense of wonder and a desire for the knowledge they developed in early childhood will help them as they learn the more complex concepts taught in high school science classes.  In early childhood education (ECE), words like observe, explore, experiment, and play should drive the science curriculum rather than mastery of specific content or skills.  In many ways, life science in ECE is also about language and vocabulary development.

Along the way, life science also helps children develop a basis of knowledge about the natural world.  From this base, young children can develop the cognitive skills to help them keep pace with the challenging academic content they will face in later grades.  The great thing about life science is that so much of the content is all around us. Teachers can promote that content simply by asking children to observe and describe elements of their natural, everyday surroundings.

This course explores ways that early childhood professionals can create opportunities for children to investigate, observe, and build knowledge through hands-on activities, classroom learning centers, and everyday practices that promote interest in and awareness of the needs and characteristics of living things, patterns and cycles in nature, and human environmental impact.

“CUR131 will prepare teachers to intentionally incorporate life science lessons into early learning environments,” says Dr. Chrystine Mitchell, Director, Early Childhood Education Operations for CCEI.  “Teachers will gain an understanding of the skills children learn when exploring life science topics so that they can plan appropriate activities for the children in their care.”

CUR131: Discovering Life Science with Young Children is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEUs upon successful completion.  Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as individual or block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

About ChildCare Education Institute, a StraighterLine Company

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI) provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. CCEI offers 200+ online child care training courses in English and Spanish to meet licensing, recognition program and Head Start requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials. CCEI, an approved partner of the Council for Professional Recognition, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). For more information, visit: cceionline.com.