TAKING THE BIG IDEA OUTSIDE

SUPPORTING EACH KINDERGARTEN CHILD'S OUTDOOR LEARNING

BUILDING COMMUNITY WHILE MINIMIZING TRANSITIONS

Engage with your students and their families in real conversations about things that matter and that are important. Reflect on things that you have done in and out of the classroom to help each child. How have the parents helped their children? At everyday drop off and pick up do you give yourself a chance to genuinely greet parents or caregivers? It has been said that Kindergarten educators are exchangers of understandings. You pursue exciting ideas with children. You give them a sense of belonging, of community, of team, while remaining open-minded to education and to life. While children are questioning and exploring their surroundings, you are modeling openness and empathy towards each child's personality. Co-collaborating with students requires uninterrupted blocks of time--time best spent outside when possible. Many times we begin our days and end our days outside in the Kindergarten yard. To minimize your transitions, just stay out as long as you can each day. Take neighborhood walks often. Go to the nearest park or field often. Bring a kite, a parachute, a glider, a tent, a soccer ball. It's amazing how authentic surroundings sustain interest in children. Present problems for children to solve outdoors, noting their endless interests.

PAUSES FOR THE EARLY LEARNING K. TEAM AND THE CHILDREN

"Four- and five-year-old children learn through active engagement, activities, observations, experimentation, and social interaction with others."

- p. 26, The Full-Day Early Learning--Kindergarten Program, Ontario, 2010

This can all be accomplished outside the walls of the institution. In Ontario's Children's Outdoor Charter it states that educators should "provide children with opportunities for silence and contemplation in natural settings" (http://childrensoutdoorcharter.ca). These opportunities are bursting in the field by the school, in the park, in the nearby woods. When plenty of time is given, children will stop and wonder about their surroundings. Their educators may record the wonder and design learning activities to engage in an inquiry process, encouraging the children to think for themselves. Educators will value all opinions. Opinions need time to form. The process needs to slow down. The process benefits by using all five senses. The inquiry improves after a pause, a good think. Active engagement is prolonged when time is set aside to wonder.

AMAZING RESOURCES

See page 17 of the FDK program, third paragraph on the right,"The outdoor world provides...".