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ECE Outdoor Play Pedagogy: Strategies for Embracing Excellence (E)

Stream: Supporting Teaching, Learning and Student Success

Early childhood educators play an essential role in shaping children’s lifelong views of learning. When children play outdoors in nature, it has been shown to impact their overall development and well-being positively. Indoor play cannot accurately replicate outdoor play as a person has to experience and connect with the outside world.

In 2020 NBCC embarked on a journey to enhance our Outdoor Pedagogy within our Early Childhood Education programs. This also coincided with an opportunity to partner with Okanagan College in Kelowna, British Columbia, and participate in their two national projects, including the “Outdoor Pedagogy in Early Childhood Education: From Colleges to Communities” funded by the Lawson Foundation.

One of our goals was to expose students, many of whom have never had those experiences themselves, to outdoor play. Children experience four seasons, so students learn to create programming for outdoor play in all seasons, covering topics such as environmental responsibility and stewardship, Indigenous values and the natural world, healthy risk-taking and curiosity, and the documentation of outdoor experiences.

To provide practical opportunities to grow as educators and build confidence, students are provided experiential learning opportunities throughout the program in NBCC’s Living Classroom and Outdoor Play experiences.

Our presentation covers strategies we took in embracing Outdoor Pedagogy over 5 unique campuses: where we started, where we are, and where we plan to go.

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