Practical indoors, practical outdoors. Seems familiar? I often notice the difference between educator-child interactions in indoor and outdoor environments. Qualified and intentional educators refrain from engaging with children outside.
After observing this trend during a serve, the team and I started to think. Educators shared popular ideas about children having “free play” and a chance for creativity and spontaneous activity. Some educators saw their primary role as a supervisor in the outside environment. I am not convinced.
the University of Melbourne Longitudinal Study (E4Kids) found that the commitment of educators and interaction is one of the key factors in providing quality education and care for young children. Why shouldn’t this commitment extend to the external environment as well? In fact, ACECQA says that ‘educators must be determined and intentional in planning quality experiences in the external environment and maximizing opportunities for learning and development. ‘
The team continued to think. After digging a little deeper, two main barriers appeared:
Lack of resources and planning leaves educators with fewer options
One educator said she struggled to engage in the outdoors because there wasn’t a lot of thinking about how to fit out the space. Another felt that the outdoor space did not have the same resources as the indoor space: “We need more resources to involve the children… sometimes it feels like the sandbox is the only one. option.
Space is uncomfortable for adults
The team reflected that while the indoor environment had appropriately sized furniture, there was nowhere for adults to sit outside. An educator said she was uncomfortable engaging in the sandbox with the children – especially during the colder months – because she was uncomfortable being in the sandbox. sit in the sand. This educator often ended up watching the children rather than playing with them.
Some educators agree to sit in the sandbox with the children. But as someone who works in early childhood and also has a physical disability, these conversations made me reflect on our inclusive practices – not only for the children and families we work with – but for the educators who work. in the environment every day. Do we need to take a deeper look at the needs and differences of our educators and design outdoor environments that will help them engage more freely with children?
Are you critical of your role in the outside environment?
The team in question has been open, honest and critical in their thinking about their practice in the outdoor space, which puts them in a position to start taking action. I encourage your team to think critically about their practices in the outdoor space as well.
Ask each member of your team to write an honest account of what they think is their role. outside. In a staff meeting, think about the space as a team. Ask yourself:
- How do adults interact with space?
- Is the space inclusive for children, families and educators? (For example, are there different levels,
- comfortable stairs, ramps and seating structures suitable for adults?)
- Is equal planning time allotted outdoors?
- Is the outdoor space adequately resourced?
- What additional resources could the outdoor space benefit from?
Given the importance of interactions between children and educators, we should all be working to create a space where educators can come together with children and enjoy the wonder and excitement that one can. find outside.
This article was republished from the Winter 2020 edition of Review of the round table. The original article will be available in the archives section of the CCC website, and can be viewed here in the future.
The Community Child Care Association offers courses and professional development to support the services to create new indoor / outdoor facilities that are cost-effective and make clear connections with executives.
For more information, please visit their site here, or call (03) 9486 3455