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Outdoor learning environments benefit preschoolers

Is this a safe outdoor learning environment?
Is this a safe outdoor learning environment?
photo by Lynn Wise

The NC Department of Child Development and Early Education (NCDCDEE) devotes Chapter Three in their Licensing Handbook to Outdoor Learning Environments. In licensed preschools, young children are required to spend a certain amount of time outdoors every day when conditions permit them to do so.

Chapter Three of the DCDEE Handbook cites several health benefits associated with outdoor play, including exposure to fresh air and sunshine in moderation. Releasing energy and exploring the senses are just some of the ways that young children can enjoy the feeling of freedom in the outdoors, according to the handbook.

The Preschool Outdoor Environment Measurement Scale (POEMS) provides a checklist for early childhood professionals to be able to design an outdoor environment with play and learning centers and properly interact with the children for enrichment opportunities.

The NC Cooperative Extension offers tips for outdoor learning environments in Making the Most of Outdoor Time with Preschool Children.