Issue 2 Bullying In Early Childhood A publication of Child Care Aware of Kansas "Corinne Carr has been providing high-quality family child care for young children since 1992. Corinne's interest in natural play environments began while she was a participant in the Healthy Kansas Kids project through Child Care Aware. She is currently a participant in the Quality Steps Project through Child Care Aware of Southeast Kansas. Corinne has contracted through Early Head Start since 2006. She is also the vice-president of the local child care provider's organization (P.L.A.Y) and a board member for the Child Care Providers Coalition of Kansas, INC.
Natural Learning Environment
by Corinne Carr, Owner and Operator , Special Blessing's Child Care, Emporia, Ks.
Early Childhood programs across the country are striving to create natural learning environments for children that promote exploration and discovery. Nature Explore is a collaborative project between the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation. The Outdoor Adventures Classroom at Special Blessing's Child Care became Nature Explore certified in August 3, 2012. This certification demonstrates our commitment to connecting children with a natural, safe learning environment that will lead to a sense of wonder and creativity.
The educational outdoor classroom gives children a chance to enhance problem solving skills, builds positive relationships,relieves stress, develops observation skills, invites imagination, and gain knowledge that will last a lifetime. Children embrace an oasis of serenity, freedom, comfort and fun. Our outdoor space encourages exercise which benefits children mentally, emotionally and promotes active, healthy bodies. Interactions with peers and adults offer a unique benefit to social/emotional development and collaborating skills.
There are many areas children can explore in the natural escape including a vegetation garden, waterfall,musical equipment (drums and chimes), stepping stones, tree cookies (natural blocks) and trees with faces. Children help fill bird feeders. Art areas complete with easels and chalk boards are provided. Other spaces include story time, a butterfly garden, dirt digging, climbing, sand and water play, dramatic play, cause/effect, a nature table and a hut.
The outdoor space is not only beneficial to children, as a child care provider, it helps me meditate and gain spiritual development. Whether it is from the water trickling down the rocks, children's laughter, or harmonious sounds of chimes, I feel rejuvenated. Children spend more time indoors with a technology oriented world than discovering the outdoors. What can you do to get them outside to experience a natural learning environment?