“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Outdoor Learning - Fall 2021
Nature-Based Outdoor Learning
For the 2021-2022 school year we will be entirely outside for the morning program, with an emphasis on nature-based learning in outdoor classrooms. This is a both response to Covid-19, as a way to use outdoor environments and small cohorts as the safest way to gather children, and a recognition of the benefits of nature-based, outdoor play. It allows our teachers to focus on providing the social, emotional, intellectual and physical development that Playschool is respected for, in the safest setting we can provide at this time. The focus on nature is an opportunity to fully embrace the relationship between our bodies, our minds and our environment. Our extensive play-yard allows for social distancing between groups while promoting healthy exploration and interaction within the cohort.
The classes each have their own semi-permanent, roofed structure with hand-washing and sanitizing equipment. The building is utilized only for restrooms (which will be cleaned after every use), administration, and weather emergencies. More information about health and safety measures can be found on our Safety page.
Outdoor Learning has been shown to have many physical, mental and cognitive health benefits for children. The mental health benefits for both children and staff are especially important given the effects of the pandemic. Outdoor play and learning has been shown to enhance empathy and connection with others as well as improve mood and decrease anxiety for both children and adults.
Outdoor play and learning benefits include:
- Greater development of fine and gross motor skills
- Longer attention spans
- Decreased hyperactivity
- Increased self-regulatory control (ie. children have less behavioral issues such as hitting or biting)
- Increased sensory development
- Decreased levels of obesity
- Improved mood
- Decreased anxiety
All classes will operate as an OUTDOOR MORNING program (9am-11:45) FIVE days a week for Fall 2021.
Children aged 2 years, 7 months-old through 6 years-old are placed into one of five classrooms:
- Yellow Room
- Purple Room
- Green Room
- Orange Room
- Blue Room/Kindergarten
Each classroom follows a daily routine that includes free choice, group time and snack time. Once a week, each classroom makes their own special snack on cooking day. Each class will create a routine which structures their day outdoors just as it did indoors. For example, some classroom areas will include a firepit, and our workbench will be moved outdoors.
Full Day /Afternoon Program
An optional Afternoon Program is available for all students who are enrolled for our morning program. This extends the day until 3pm.
Students may attend on all five days or choose a Tu/Th or M/W/F schedule. We cannot offer a drop-in option.
The full-day students may utilize the building for afternoon rest time and relief from the cold, and will attend indoor class on stormy mornings when the outdoor morning program may be cancelled. (Snow and ice may still result in a snow-day cancellation or delay). Our afternoon program has smaller cohorts that can be distanced more safely in an indoor environment for Fall 2021.
Conferences are scheduled twice yearly to communicate child progress and growth. Teachers are available throughout the year for additional parent communication via e-mail and meetings.