It truly is magical.
Happy Fall! All is well in our magical, peaceful kingdom of the outdoor classroom and we will be trying new ways to keep it that way even if we have a little rain. The children have been looking for signs of fall and noticing changes to the trees and plants on the yard. Our outdoor classrooms have all the elements of play and learning that we have when we are inside, with the added extra of nature all around.
ExchangeEveryDay is an email for early childhood educators and offers small tidbits each day, and a recent post is perfectly in-line with our outdoor classrooms: According to a post on the University of Minnesota’s website, viewing beautiful scenes in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. We are all finding those benefits as we are outside each day.
What we have known for a long time, and what has been reinforced through these weeks outside, is that the children have less negative interaction with each other, they are able to concentrate better, and they are able to separate from parents and caregivers easier when they are walking into the outside area, and they are relaxed and engaged. We are seeing this every day, from the smallest toddler walking across the yard, carrying her snack bag to her classroom, to the TK child skipping in saying, “see you in three hours!” Children’s learning is layered with nature as they are counting and sorting, not with plastic toys but with different rocks, twigs, and flowers, and they are painting at the easels with “nature brushes” made out of sticks and the green needle leaves of the redwoods. It truly is magical.
The Boston Schoolyard Initiative states it beautifully; The outdoor environment of the schoolyard is intrinsically exciting to children. It offers them immediate access to the world beyond the classroom — a place to test and explore what they are learning about how the world works. The scale and multi-sensory dimensions extend far beyond what is possible to provide in the classroom. The schoolyard provides a lens onto the complexity of the everyday world. This rich and continually changing environment invites students to explore on their own, and to interact socially. It invites physical movement, and the stillness that comes with close concentration and reflection. It stimulates curiosity and questioning, and reinforces knowledge already gained.
We are so blessed to have such beautiful surroundings with space to create outdoor classrooms for the children and teachers, keeping them happy, learning, and safe.