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.