Before you enroll your child in a conventional preschool that consists of an indoor classroom, you might want to consider a more creative approach. With new innovations in child development evolving every day, the concept of education has taken a new turn. Outdoor classrooms have become a new trend in learning, so why not discover what an outdoor classroom involves (and the many benefits it has to offer?)
What is the Concept and Design of an Outdoor Classroom?
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, an outdoor classroom for preschoolers often has a designated outdoor study and activity area with benches and tables. Some outdoor preschool classrooms allow the children to sit on a blanket or mat, or on tree stumps for story time. Most all outdoor learning environments for preschoolers will include a playground area as well.
Some outdoor classrooms will be arranged with a theme. Here are a few different themes that are often utilized for an outdoor classroom:
A Zoological Theme: a zoological theme might feature animal-designed art, statuettes and lawn decor. The teacher might attach a fun facts card next to the various animal statues. The card may list interesting and educational information about the zoo animal.
A Flower Garden Theme: A Flower garden may allow the children to plant their own seeds, as they learn how to grow and care for flowers. Teachers like this type of theme as it does not require a lot of space to plant a small flower garden. If space is not an issue, however, teachers often expand their garden as they wish.
A Camping Theme: The outdoor class might include individual tents for small groups of children, or one large tent for all the kids. Activities to complement the theme might include hikes through the surrounding area (or along a nearby hiking path), stories around a campfire, or even learning how to fish.
How Might Your Preschooler Benefit From an Outdoor Classroom?
Do you need convincing why learning outside the confines of indoors is a good concept? For one thing, consider the benefit of learning through sensory perception. There are many new sights and sounds to explore outdoors. If you wish to nurture your youngster's natural curiosity and senses, an outdoor learning environment provides a smart solution.
Imagine your child learning hands-on about nature as he or she experiences the fuzzy feel of a caterpillar, the texture of various types of foliage, or the sound and behavior of a whippoorwill, which may be difficult to observe and hear from indoors. Because whippoorwill breeding and nesting occurs in wooded areas, outdoor classrooms near the woods may provide a rare opportunity for kids to learn about this avian species.
Also, your child will benefit from a deeper level of physical activity in an outdoor environment. While standard preschools typically allow kids to exercise only at recess, outdoor classes incorporate physical activity into many aspects of learning. Your child will experience experience exploration hikes and other stimulating physical outdoor activities, all of which are involved in daily lessons.
How Can Parents Prepare Children for Outdoor Classroom Activities?
Parents need to anticipate weather conditions for outdoor classroom activities. As a parent, you might want to ask the teacher if a closet or storage area is available where children may store outerwear such as raincoats, boots, mittens, hats and coats (during the colder months). Also, sunscreen application should be reapplied after a few hours, so pack some in your child's backpack and ask the teacher to see that it is used. The use of insect repellent is a good idea as well. Finally, make sure your child is wearing a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
If an outdoor preschool isn't for you, remember that there are other alternative to traditional preschool as well, such as a place like Sammamish Montessori School.