Home > Early Learning, Environment, Health & Safety > Let’s Talk…Taking It Outside

Let’s Talk…Taking It Outside

October 12, 2011

Next week Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play (HSBS) is promoting Take it Outside Week to encourage early childhood professionals and families to make time outdoors an important part of young children’s daily lives.  So much research has come out lately on the positive effects of connecting children with nature such as reducing signs of ADHD, improving mental and physical health as well as academic outcomes and social skills, becoming better stewards of the environment, and even leading to better eyesight!

Be sure to check out the Take It Outside Week website for some great ideas and info on helping children in this fast-paced technology-driven world experience nature first hand.  Consider sharing with your local media what you are doing within (or should I say OUTSIDE) your program to promote the event. It not only markets your program, but shares the “Leave No Child Inside” message with others! If you are looking for an inspirational book on this topic, I would recommend Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods.  The Cooperative Extension System also has a nice article on Basic Tips To Keep Children in Child Care Safe Outdoors.  A few websites on this topic you might find of value are:

Most early childhood professionals I know enjoy taking their children for outdoor walks, field trips to the park, or helping children discover the nature in their own play yard. What they struggle with is the challenges they are sometimes faced when taking learning outside. Family child care providers might find they have children of different ages on different schedules. Child care center providers might struggle with busy parents not sending proper gear for the weather. Part-day preschool teachers might find that the time that it takes up in the schedule to prepare and transition for outdoor play and learning leaves minimal time for indoor self-selection time. And early childhood teachers in a school district might be concerned with safety if age-appropriate equipment and proper supervision is not available.

We hope you will share with us here how you have worked to overcome these challenges in order to get your children outdoors and connected to nature! Or let us know what your favorite resources are related to this topic!


P.S. Several of us from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach team as well as some of the guest blog contributors will be presenting on Oct. 14-15 at the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference. We hope to see some of you there! 🙂  Please introduce yourself and give us your thoughts on the Let’s Talk…Child Care blog and how it has impacted your work. Did you read something that made you think? Did someone share something that made you change a practice? Is there a topic you would like to see presented here?  Tell us your thoughts!

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader

Malisa Rader is a human sciences specialist that misses the daily hugs and high-fives from little people.

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  1. I love getting children outside!! My biggest challenges are the parents. They either send their child in “nice” clothes or don’t send warm enough clothes in the winter. Even though it is a written policy, they just don’t seem to get it!! I’ve started a collection of mittens, hats, boots, and snowpants for the kids in my daycare. Having those items on hand as been very helpful!

  2. Hi Janet –

    Good for you on getting kids outside and finding a way to overcome a challenge! I once had triplets enrolled in my program. I can remember the mom carrying a laundry basket in to the center with all of the winter gear. I figured if she could manage, then I could keep working with the other families to understand the importance of the group being able to get outside for a nice length of time while still keeping a “back up” of items in the closet.

    I can also remember being frustrated when a parent was upset at me because her child’s new name brand tennis shoes got dirty in the mud. She told me how much they cost and expected some reimbursement. I learned to be as up front as possible during the family’s first visit about my expectations and philosophies so that parents could decide if we were a good match. While policies and procedures are good and we need them, I’m not sure how much parents read the handbooks we give after enrollment. I just found being upfront in the beginning saved some heartache on the part of the parent and me.

    Thanks for giving your thoughts voice!!

  3. I love getting outside with the kids – even if it is just a walk around the block. There is something about the fresh air that lifts both the kids spirits and my own and helps us make it through the day happily. Don’t forget about the infants too – when I started my home daycare I watched only infants and I quickly learned the importance of outside time for them too. A good walk in the stroller meant longer nap times and happier babies. (and pushing the quad stroller was a great workout for me!)