Outdoor Classrooms and Quality Learning
What does a High Quality Preschool look like?
I teach two courses at North Shore Community College; Child Growth and Development and Foundations of Early Childhood. During the second week of my Foundations of Early Childhood course, I discuss the various options in Early Childhood Education. When entering the ECE field, young teachers need to have an understanding of the career choices that are available to them. I introduce how these options vary in terms of purpose, professional requirements and professional roles and invite the question, “What does a high quality Preschool look like?”
Every semester, I introduce young teachers to various theorists and methods of education. I highlight Frederick Froebel, Maria Montessori, and Loris Malaguzzi. I facilitate conversations about the role of playful learning, nature based education and outdoor classrooms. I also introduce, Richard Louv, who coined the term, “Nature Deficit Disorder.” I do this to illustrate the need to train teachers that high quality education is found outdoors. I believe that if we are going to have a conversation about high quality preschools, it is vitally important to train teachers on the impact of connecting children to nature and the value of Outdoor Classrooms.
President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address put Early Childhood Education on the map. Thought leaders are asking the question, “What does High Quality Early Childhood Education look like? NPR’s article Why The President Wants To Give Hundreds of Millions Of Dollars to Toddlers, reflects on 19th century change agents such as Freiderick Froebel, the father of kindergarden. His model of education is founded on his “child-gardens”, playful learning and mixed-age classrooms of children from 3 to 7 years old.
I believe that one of the answers to our education woes is simple. Take the children outside and create outdoor classrooms in every school for every child. The answers are waiting for us within our natural world. We just need to take the time to listen. Come join us over at Outdoor-Classrooms.com. Share your story with us and together we can become “change agents” in reconnecting children with nature and creating quality education.