Research consistently shows that children have a strong preference to be outdoors in nature. Nature sustains us and is an incredible library of knowledge. Children are natural explorers and have an intense desire for knowledge about their surroundings. They need opportunities to explore the natural world for if there are not early experiences with nature, a love and respect for nature doesn’t develop. It is important that we guide children to discover themselves and the world around them.
In the outdoor classroom children feel a sense of belonging in nature, become more observant, and develop a reverence for life. The outdoors is a developmentally appropriate classroom for children.
Environmental education should start at any early age with hands-on experiences with nature. There is evidence that concern for the environment is based on affection for nature that only develops with autonomous, unmediated contact with nature. The way people feel in pleasing natural environments improves recall of information, creative problem solving, and creativity.
Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and a sense of wonder. Wonder is important as it a motivator for lifelong learning.
– from Spartanburg, SC’s The Green School
ELC’s Outdoor Space includes:
- Wooden stage for performance, imaginative play, and school gatherings
- Wooden xylophone
- Bird feeders
- Tree stumps and log beams
- Mud kitchen (built and installed summer 2014)
- Dirt box for gardening and mud kitchen creations (built and installed summer 2014)
- Wooden adirondack chairs and octagonal table (being built and installed spring 2015)
- Trees, shrubs, flowers, and lots of grass to run and play in
- Wooden jeep structure (built and installed summer 2014)
- Sidewalks/paths for sidewalk chalk
- A gated traditional playground structure
- Large sandbox
All ELC classes use the Outdoor Classroom space throughout the year!