Studies show that contact with the natural world can significantly reduce symptoms of attention deficit disorder, contribute to enhanced self-esteem, and increase the likelihood that individuals will take action to benefit the environment.* Lane’s Child and Family Education Department have taken these studies to heart and have designed a full outdoor experience for the kids in their Center.
In 2011, Child and Family Education transformed their traditional playground to one that emphasizes play with natural elements. A rock creek bed, garden, and play campground made of rocks replaced plastic houses. In additional to the natural elements, the playground also includes recycled-content, low maintenance plastic lumber. Native plants attract birds and insects that further increase the children’s interactions with nature.
The curriculum for the children in the Center includes a lot of outside play with natural materials, planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables, hikes along Lane’s nature trails and tours of Lane’s Learning Garden and the Recycling Education Center. The landscaping consists of edible blueberry bushes and native plants that attract birds and insects that further increase the children’s interactions with nature.
When indoors, the kids are often playing with natural or reused materials. Teachers save paper that has only been used on one side and shop at re-use stores for classroom supplies.
The food served to the children includes healthy, organic fruits and vegetables from the campus gardens. Chef Eiko creates menus around the local harvest and preserves foods such as tomatoes and beets for use later in the year.
The Child and Family Education Department’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into early childhood education benefits children’s health and cognitive development as well as the health of the planet. Thanks CFE!!!
*This information was taken from a presentation by the Oregon Department of Education on Oregon House Bill 2544 “No Oregon Child Left Inside Act.”