Outdoor play is a critical component of preschool education. Being outdoors encourages children to engage in exploration of their surroundings and spurs them to take risks within the confines of a safe environment. Walking, running, jumping, swinging, and conquering any number of natural obstacle courses found in the great outdoors assists with gross motor development. Playing with stones, sticks, pine cones, grass, flowers, and any other number of outdoor items helps children exercise fine motor skills. All of these activities generate a child’s imagination and inspire an interest in learning basic knowledge about the world around them. Many basic skills that children need to expand their education and knowledge base can be most effectively gained through outdoor play.
Our culture is consistently demanding more from our children. Several educators and experts have gone on record as being concerned about the staggering amount of developmentally inappropriate academics being placed on young children. Early testing and desk time take away from play, which for our children is a basic need. Learning through play is essential for preschoolers and often best achieved outdoors.
Being outside gives kids a large number of advantages, it can also save a parent’s sanity. Giving children a chance to exercise helps improve attention, response time, and interest. Letting them discover new and exciting things on their own generates an interest in learning new things that cannot be achieved by spoon feeding paper based material. As an added bonus, playing in the mud, finger painting, and crafting with preschoolers is by far easier and more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about the mess in the home. This freedom to creatively express themselves with less restrictions than would be placed on them inside creates an enjoyable and fun learning environment for both child and parent.
Our family is a huge fan of the Mother Goose Time curriculum, in large part because it is extremely easy to take the suggested activities and crafts outside. Many of the learning objectives are actually easier to communicate to our preschooler and toddler in the great outdoors. The thematic based exercises are easily portable, many times actually require “tools” from the outdoors (dirt, sticks, stones), and are complimented by natural play activities that our children can complete at the park or in our backyard.
We most recently completed a thematic unit on Nature Detectives. Nature Detectives encouraged us to spend a large part of our day outside exploring and discovering trees, plants, flowers, animals, etc. Our current unit, Fables and Folktales is less reliant on outdoor time, but still provides lots of fun excuses to head outdoors and paint, craft, build with sticks, etc., and of course play!
Are you home schooling a preschooler?
I’m looking to connect with other parents who are homeschooling preschool and I’d love to hear from you!
As a blog ambassador for Mother Goose Time, I am happy to share preschool curriculum ideas, activities, and crafts with my readers. Mother Goose Time provides our family the opportunity to use their curriculum free of charge in exchange for honest and authentic stories based on our personal experience.