About Me

My photo
A NC Mom to 4 wonderful boys, Wife to GREAT Husband, & TK Teacher!! Hey... Add a comment if you want!! I'd love to hear from you!!!

My Blog List

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Outdoor Classroom and the Academic Parent

We are very lucky to have our school adjacent to a local nature preserve with a small path that follows along a local lake.  We have taken on a small area as an outdoor classroom for our TK students and try to get out there at least once a week. 

Although I know how important the outdoor space and our outdoor learning is, some of the parents in our school do not see the importance of their children using our outdoor space for learning.  I try to give parents examples of what we do out there, just take the weaving photo above... we set that up for the children to practice their weaving skills within a larger area.  Using more natural materials they are able to problem solve and use critical thinking skills to decide what to put in the weaving area, how do they weave a stick into the yarn compared to a leaf... how many will fit? how much surface will one leaf take up compared to another?   These are just some of the pieces of the puzzle that makes up the learning journey of the early childhood student. 

We have been visiting our outdoor classroom since early September, while out there the students found an old tree that had fallen.  They used it for many adventures, pretending it was a boat, a tight rope, a mountain, a bear den... just to name a few.  Also, on this fallen tree was a log that had fallen the opposite way and was sitting like a see-saw against the fallen tree.  All Fall and Winter the kids played on that log, trying to get it to move like a see-saw, but it was sitting on the fallen tree in an unbalanced way.  On the first day of Spring we went out to our outdoor classroom and the kids were over there playing when my co-teacher and I heard lots of hooping and hollering coming from that part of the outdoor classroom, the kids actually got that log to move like a see-saw by placing more kids on one side than the other.  Do they know the mechanics that made it work?? Not the specifics, but after much talking, working together, critical thinking, problem solving and most importantly, taking a big risk on having lots of kids on one side of a wobbly log just to move the child on the other end a little... Well let me tell you... it was AMAZING!!!  They were soooo proud of themselves!!  We tried to bring that joy to the parents, but can you believe we actually had parents who could not see the benefits of the learning experience that their child just had, well, believe it!! 

In early childhood learning the child learns through PLAY and playing in nature only enhances that adventure and helps to make meaning that a preschooler can understand and relate to.  So, I have been trying to convey this information to our families.  I need to make these parents see the benefits of our outdoor classroom compared to having a preschooler fixated on reading and math through sit down work, flashcards, and that darn "My Baby Can Read" program!!!  My summer will be spent coming up with an outdoor curriculum that these parents can relate to, that can be assessed so they can "SEE" what their child is learning, but I know that the things they can't see are the important things, and as I long as I know they are getting those unseen experiences, I know I am giving these children an adventure I know they wouldn't get otherwise.

Any ideas how to go about this?? I welcome the comments and advice!!!!