Some families have asked about the focus on time outdoors year-round in some of the classrooms. We see this part of our program as a wonderful opportunity for children and their families to embrace the place that we all call home–Minnesota!
There are so many amazing learning experiences outdoors for children, and during the pandemic we have found it to be a wonderful way to keep children active and outdoors where the spread of COVID is less likely. There was recently a systematic review of the literature focused on the early childhood period of development and how nature-based learning supports children’s growth. Many more resources are available. Please contact Sheila Williams Ridge at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
The CDLS staff teaching outdoors are knowledgeable and prepared to help children navigate the physical and emotional transitions that challenges like inclement weather can bring to their lives–a learning experience for a lifetime of embracing their world. At the same time we are training a new class of early childhood professionals to be prepared to teach in many different settings.
When preparing children to be outdoors in any weather, we make sure children are safe and comfortable so that they can have the most positive experience possible. You will see the children that are outside for several hours a day enjoying warm thermal containers full of herbal tea, apple cider, soup, or oatmeal to keep them warm. We also keep plenty of extra mittens, wool socks, hand warmers, and neck gaiters on hand! Children take warm-up walks in the building on very cold days and spend some time in their classrooms to get warm.
During the winter, playing outdoors in the snow provides children with joyful memories and skills that will last a lifetime. Many adults reflect on their own youth with positive recollections of time building snowpeople with their families, skating, building snow forts, or having epic snowball fights with their friends from the neighborhood. Our children will have those same immersive experiences in their early years and we know when the days are short, fitting outside time in at school can be helpful for the busy lives of families.