Outdoor Play Provides Rich Environment For Learning

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/19/2005 10:28:40 PM

News Release Distributed May 2004

When choosing a child-care facility it is just as important to visit the outside spaces as it is to tour the classrooms, an LSU AgCenter expert advises.

"Outdoor play is a favorite activity for most young children," says LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe. "Playing outdoors provides the opportunity for young children to use and develop their large muscles while running, climbing, skipping, hopping, throwing, catching, digging and riding bikes or tricycles."

But Gioe points out that outdoor play doesn’t just encourage large motor development. It also plays an important role in children’s learning – particularly when it is thought of as an extension of the indoor space.

"Circle time, story time and art all can occur outdoors instead of in," Gioe says. "In addition, the outdoors is an obvious landscape for experiences with many aspects of science."

The LSU AgCenter child-care expert says children of all ages should be taken outdoors at least twice a day – when the weather permits, of course. And she points out that the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that there be 80-100 square feet per child available for play.

Once outdoors children should be supervised constantly, Gioe stresses, adding that they should have access to a wide variety of activities such as:

–Playground equipment that is appropriate for the ages of children who will be using the space

–Items for digging and pouring

–Riding toys (pedaled or foot propelled)

–Areas for quiet play

–Outdoor pets

–Gardening areas

–Balance beams

–Ramps

–Sliding poles

–Bars

–Stairs

–Swings

–Trucks

–Wheelbarrows

–Plastic animals

–Natural objects such as sticks, stones, shells and pebbles

–Sandbox

–Water table

–Chalk

–Bubbles

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor:      Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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