Early Childhood and pre-K

Gigi_JDouglasDaughter_SmellingFlowers_FAN369Nature is the ideal playscape for the climbing, running, pondering and wondering of healthy child development. Unstructured outdoor play and guided nature activities can be part of children’s everyday lives. Early childhood education centers and homecare sites can incorporate natural playspace designs, short off-site nature walks, family nature clubs, native plants, and gardens. For further information, contact Ilisa Goldman at gro.erutandnanerdlihcdsnull@namdlogi.

Outdoor Play and Learning Environments (OPALE) initiative:

SDCaN is currently in the process of developing and seeking funding for a program to educate early childhood education providers and professionals on the importance of the nature-based play and learning in the first five years of life, and provide them with the tools and design assistance needed to incorporate nature based learning and nature settings into their curriculum and facilities. This interdisciplinary program addresses the importance of education, nutrition, physical activity, and landscape design in developing healthy outdoor play and learning environments (OPALE).

The program is supported by research that indicates that young children learn most effectively through hands-on experiences (life skills, science concepts, language, good nutritional habits), and that being outdoors is critical to children’s physical and emotional development (obesity prevention, attention and behavioral issues, etc.).  The OPALE program is guided by the local “Nature Learning in Early Childhood Education” Advisory Committee.

This program will work with early childhood centers to transform their existing outdoor play space and programs into stimulating, nature play and learning environments offering diverse opportunities for increased physical activity, healthy nutrition, and learning in nature.  The program consists of a series of meetings and workshops with administrators, educators, students in organizations focused on early childhood development.  For more information contact: gro.erutandnanerdlihcdsnull@namdlogi.

Click to link to resources about nature play

Click to link to resources about designing nature spaces.