Increased outdoor play yields benefits for preschoolers
Holland College childhood education researchers note improved moods, ability to learn
Increased outdoor play had a number of positive effects on Holland College's daycare children, say childhood education researchers who were researching the subject.
The four researchers, who help run the college's daycare, decided to make outdoor activities a much bigger priority for children ages two to four years old.
Now, they are unveiling their findings.
"When you're outside you're getting more oxygen to your brain, as you're getting more oxygen you're able to better think. And outside you have an ability to use bigger movements, so you're using your whole body to learn," said Marlene Harding, early childhood educator.
The children would start the day in the backyard. They had activities, snack time and more general playtime in the outdoor playground.
They could choose when they wanted to go outside.
The researchers say they noticed a big change.
"There's typically a daily question of, 'Are we going outside yet?'" said Christine Clement.
They observed better moods and an increased ability to learn by doing.
And, although they say it is not a scientific claim, fewer children and staff got sick.
"We all know that germs grow in warm, moist environments, which is indoors. So when you're outdoors the fresh air, the oxygen to the brain, the movement, helps out the immune system," said Clement.
The researchers worked with parents to make sure the kids were always properly dressed. But if it was warmer than -25 C, they headed outside if they wanted to.
"There is great learning that happens. I'd be wonderful the more experiences we get outside," said Harding.
The four researchers want to share their findings with educators around the world.
There hasn't been a lot of research done on kids and outdoor play before this, say the researchers, but it's time daycares and schools realized the potential of taking the classroom outside.