Recently a professional suggested to start our busy preschool class outside. As educators, we know how important outdoor play is for children. Outdoor play promotes development of gross motor skills, creativity, social skills and independence, among of many other benefits. We had no idea though, how much switching the time of day we played outdoors, could impact our class so much! Our class is full of energy and it seemed that by the time we headed outside near the end of our 2.5 hours, everyone was bouncing off the walls!
So, this past week, we thought we would try this “outside first” scenario. The first day outside, some children were unsure with the change in routine and took a while to start getting involved in play. By the time we were ready to go inside, everybody was having a good time. It was on the second day, the children were much more comfortable with coming into the yard at the beginning of class. Our children enjoyed playing with the older class that was outside at the same time and some new friendships have been formed. We ended up having a dance party together in the rain!
It was when we came inside that we really noticed a difference in the way the children transitioned and played. We had noticed that the children were saying they were hungry after playing outside on the first day, so we decided to change our schedule even further and went straight to snack when the children came inside. Everyone was eager to eat and they spent longer than usual with their snacks. The free play that followed snack was much calmer and cooperative which is what really surprised us. Could it be that our playing outside first really contributed to a calmer time in the classroom? The third day we tried our new schedule again and it indeed proved that things for us have changed in a very positive way.
Until next time….Julie and Carmen