News and Updates
Colorado Gives Day -- December 4, 2018 -- schedule your donation
October 2018 -- There is an
in the air...
There is a
national movement to place more focus on and support for the development of quality OUTDOOR LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS in early childhood education centers.
Rather than thinking of these spaces as playgrounds, redefining them as outdoor learning environments places the outdoors and nature more centrally in daily learning and rhythms.
As we know in North Routt, which was echoed recently in the
Natural Start Alliance newsletter
(2018), nature and outdoor time enriches nearly all aspects of the development, health, and well-being of young children...and helps children develop a lifelong love of nature and wildlife. With this in mind, researchers at the National Wildlife Federation are working to shift state and national early childhood education quality standards to REWARD those places and programs that strive to foster nature-connection experiences. They advocate that
all early childhood education centers should meet the following criteria
outdoor time is:
In a natural setting (with vegetation);
Focused on nature rather than some non-nature activity;
Recurring, so that they become a regular part of the child’s life;
Providing opportunities for a child to learn skills, feel successful, and have other highly affirming experiences; and,
Supported by a caring and helpful adult.
Good news! North Routt Preschool is already doing this, and has plans to do much more!
Christa Kline, our Director and Lead Toddler Teacher just attended the Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) summit in Denver, CO, on October 13 at Denver's Botanic Garden
, and is already bringing in a host of new ideas and plans for expanding our outdoor learning environments in naturalized ways.
What is the ECHO model?
The ECHO model includes a rich variety of landscape design features to promote structured and unstructured physical activity, free play, and learning. An ECHO site includes at least two outdoor gross motor skill development features (e.g., climbing features or looping pathways) and at least two outdoor learning settings (e.g., gardening area, loose parts station, or dramatic play area). Children should also have access to a looping pathway and wheeled toys. These outdoor play and learning environments include a variety of plants and micro-habitats representative of local area flora and also include natural features that enrich children’s outdoor time. Examples include non-toxic trees, shrubs, or vines; topographic variations (such as mounds, terraces, slopes); a variety of ground surfaces (mulch, grass, pebbles); smooth rocks, wood or logs; non-poisonous flowering plants or garden plants and vegetables; birdfeeders, bird baths, and birdhouses. Consumption of fruits and vegetables grown on-site is expressly allowed.
The underlying ECHO research shows that, by improving the design of outdoor spaces, keeping it affordable, and providing hands-on training for early childhood center professionals, children and early childhood programs can use outdoor spaces to reap major benefits. Children and care providers spend and enjoy much more time outside in these spaces participating in behaviors that make them stronger, improve their cognition, teach them social and motor skills, and help them get improved sleep. Outdoors, children are more physically active and engage in more interactions with each other and adults. And parents are often more likely to linger at these child care programs and watch the fun – which improves the overall community experience.
Stay tuned...North Routt Preschool is developing in timely and exciting ways!
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North Routt Preschool
26999 Eagle Lane
Clark, CO 80428