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Outdoor Learning & Play for our Youngest Learners

Outdoor Learning & Play for our Youngest Learners

This year, staff at the Central Education Center collaborated with our community partners at Best Buy to build the new Central Outdoor Classroom. This is a safe, fun space for children and families to enjoy nature. You will see teachers reading to children under the tree, children balancing on logs and using magnifying glasses to observe nature. 

Richfield preschoolers at the Central Education Center spend a great deal of time outdoors during our school year, going outside every day if the weather is not dangerous. Some of their outdoor time is spent engaged in planned learning experiences, but children also have plenty of unstructured time to run, jump, crawl, climb and use all of their large muscles - as well as their imaginations!

Playing outdoors is a powerful way to support a child’s physical and intellectual development. The benefits of being outdoors are well-documented by professional researchers in medicine, education and psychology, but all you really need to do is ask children, “Do you want to go outside?”

Being outdoors offers children opportunities they cannot have the same way indoors. Outdoors, children use scientific inquiry to learn how seeds grow, the life cycle of animals they see, about changes in the seasons they experience and so much more. When children can see, touch, and experience firsthand the things they are learning about in pictures indoors, it deepens their learning.

Children also learn mathematics, more complex language, more complex social and emotional skills, increased cognitive flexibility and problem-solving, as well as a lifelong appreciation and care for nature and all living things. The skills children are building outdoors go beyond large motor development.

Did you know?

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) has a class that is fully taught outside. ECO (Every Child Outdoors) is a class offered in our outdoor classroom for families with children ages 1-3 years. Learn more and register online.

Read related stories from our Early Learning blog:

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A teacher at Centennial is interviewed for the evening news.

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