At Healthy Toddlers Care, the outdoors is more than a play area, it’s also our classroom! Unlike large, structured childcare centers, our teachers have the advantage of choosing from multiple study areas outdoors.
Learning outdoors provides opportunities for children to excel both academically and socially. This is why more than seventy-five percent of the children’s time at Healthy Toddlers Care is spent outdoors. Nearly our entire curriculum (activities and experiences designed to aid in the children’s cognitive and social development), is taught outdoors. The reward for everyone is healthier, happier children who are engaged in learning!
Early childhood experts have observed that there are many benefits to teaching children outside. Some of these benefits are listed below.
- Many studies confirm that kids benefit when they are exposed to outdoor levels of sunlight -- levels that far exceed the lighting of a typical classroom. Exposure to natural sunlight boosts mood and concentration. It may help prevent disease, circadian rhythm disorders, and near-sightedness. And new research suggests that bright light has a crucial impact on the brain: It may foster the formation of new synapses, and enhance our ability to learn.
- Outdoor learning allows students to focus on what’s natural. Children often have too much exposure to digital screens, such as televisions, computers, and cell phones. This can result in a “nature deficit disorder,” which may lead to academic and behavior challenges.
- Being outdoors encourages an active lifestyle. Children who spend a lot of time outside are much more likely to continue to spend time outdoors as they get older.
- The outdoors inspires children to work together and develop their social skills. Indoor spaces often feel crowded to children, which can be intimidating. Being outdoors can help children join in and come out of their shells. Children who are outdoors can be more comfortable in groups, learning to manage conflicts, communicate, and cooperate with their peers in a more effective manner.
- Children are innate scientists and love to experience the sights, scents, sounds, and textures of the outdoors. Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving, and STEM education. Interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing and experiment with ideas. Healthy Toddlers Care’s students can even start a garden and grow fruit and vegetables, which often leads to an early harvest “sampling.” These hands-on experiences cultivate a love of nature and inspire an interest in our natural resources.
While we promote the benefits of our outdoor classroom, we are also aware of the harmful effects of the sun. Our teachers and students take rigorous steps to avoid exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. These steps include:
- Shaded areas throughout our outdoor environment.
- Covering up with appropriate clothing
- Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Of course, during cold weather, everyone dresses appropriately.
Our students love playing outdoors in the rain! Even though we might have a winter with light rain, we want our students to experience playing in the rain like students who live in locations with four seasons. On these days, we ask our families to please provide the following:
- Extra change of clothes
- Rain boots