In the previous blog post, educators explained some developmental benefits to outdoor play. Playing outdoors becomes critical in the face of increasingly more academic pressure in early years. We tend to see learning the order of the alphabet, basics of reading and writing, and how to properly cut with scissors as what’s important for heading in to school. Children ought to be learning to sit quietly at tables, color neatly, and keep clean, right? Early childhood educators will tell you otherwise!
Lindsay McKiernan, a Cincinnati early childhood educator, wishes that parents understood that “if their child comes home from preschool with dirt on their clothes it doesn’t mean our teachers were neglectful. It means they learned how seeds grow. It means they learned to work as a team while playing soccer. It means they climbed, ran and jumped, and pretended to be wild animals.”
Megan Brown, a teacher also in Cincinnati, knows that parents are responding to societal push for more preschool academics but wishes that parents knew “that play outside is the building block that supports everything else and it is that vital for long term success in school and life-long positive health.” Lindsay also says she loves and recognizes the importance of books but agrees that young children “will learn more from putting their hands in the soil than from putting their nose in a book.”
Instead of looking at outdoor play as a distraction from what’s important, we can recognize that outdoor play is what’s important!