Phone: (517) 787-3026 | Hours: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
North Star Montessori
Preschool & Kindergarten
While outdoors in our natural play yard children love to observe seasonal changes. As trees begin to change color in Autumn and their leaves begin to fall, children want to identify the leaves and match them to the variety of trees we have. Children sort their collections, by size, shape, and color. Our Oaks, Maples, and Mulberry, have one type of leaf but kids think it is cool that 3 types of leaves grow on our Sassafras trees. Another popular outdoor activity for children is to build and make art projects with natural items they find and gather. Children are creative and resourceful and using their imaginations can turn twigs, leaves, acorns, rocks and hickory nuts into sculptures, leaf rubbings, and collages while they have fun experiencing the process of making art. Outdoor play engages all of children’s senses and ignites their curiosity.
According to a study published in the journal of Pediatrics in 2015 by researchers in Seattle, preschoolers spend just 8% of their day experiencing outdoor play, and spend more than 90% of their day indoors in sedentary activities. Children at North Star Montessori spend roughly 30% of their day experiencing outdoor hands-on learning through free play and when indoors have the freedom to move to choose work in our curriculum areas. We prioritize our time in nature by building two to three hours a day of outdoor learning into our daily schedule. Outside interacting with living things, children learn compassion towards plants, animals, and the environment. Our outdoor experiences reduce children’s stress and improve their mental health, resilience, problem solving skills, and physical fitness.
Even though today’s parents may have grown up spending their childhood’s outdoors, free from technology, many studies indicate that their children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did. In a study published in 2012, researchers from the University of Washington surveyed 9,000 preschool-age students across the country and found that only about half went out to play at least once a day with a parent.
Outdoor time for children is dwindling
There are so many opportunities for learning from free play outside. North Star Montessori Preschool & Kindergarten students enjoy being on the move, and are inspired daily by their outdoor environment. They balance on logs, climb rocks, find caterpillars and frogs, listen to birds, go on nature hikes, and make up games as they have time to discover and learn outdoors everyday. We need to take advantage of these best practices as educators and parents to ensure children’s developmental needs are met.
By Barbara Barnes
NSM Founder & Director