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St. Margaret’s ECDC Named FIRST and ONLY Recognized Outdoor Classroom Site in Orange County!

24 August 2012 admin 4,416 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

St. Margaret’s Early Childhood Development Center is the first school in Orange County, Calif., to be designated as a “Recognized Outdoor Classroom Site” by the California Outdoor Classroom Project.

Eric Nelson, director of the Outdoor Classroom Project said to St. Margaret’s, “Congratulations for all your hard work, devotion to children and commitment to the Outdoor Classroom! Welcome to the Network.”

The Outdoor Classroom Project was created in July 2003 by the Child Educational Center, a nationally accredited program of early childhood education which, since 1979, has cultivated the concept and practice of the Outdoor Classroom. The philosophy of the Outdoor Classroom is that all children need and benefit from more time outdoors. This benefit affects development and learning. It is critical for physical health. Nearly every activity that can be done indoors can be done outdoors. Some activities can only occur outdoors. Other activities occur best outdoors. For children ages 0 to 5, development and learning outdoors is often easier and more beneficial than it is indoors. Full development and integration of outdoor and indoor programs creates the optimal learning and growing environment for young children.

Director of the St. Margaret’s Early Childhood Development Center Ingrid Andrews says, “For some time, we’ve been reading the research about what Richard Louv calls, ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ and made a commitment to providing an outdoor environment and curriculum that nurtures growth and learning for the whole child. We are interested in promoting a healthy lifestyle for young children and creating a respect for the earth they will inherit while providing inviting spots for play and learning, too. Our playground is a lot more than a place to ‘let off steam.’ It’s a science lab, an artists’ studio, a library, a symphony hall, a theatre and a gym.

“Our Outdoor Classroom supports physical, social and emotional growth, as well as growth across the curriculum: math, science, language and literacy, social studies, art, music and drama. Being outside nurtures the dispositions for learning (creativity, persistence, collaboration, problem solving and communication) that we know leads to lifelong learning,” she said.

With grants from the Parent Teacher Fellowship over the last few years, St. Margaret’s moved and expanded its ECDE garden to maximize the sun exposure and encourage fruit and vegetable growing potential. Additionally, the program expanded recycling and composting efforts and remained committed to maintaining a barnyard with chickens. Further improvements include building a deck for hollow block-play and just this summer the construction of an outdoor stage for our young actors and musicians (as well as for cozy reading and story-telling under the tree.)

To receive the designation of a Recognized Outdoor Classroom Site, St. Margaret’s Early Childhood Development Center faculty attended a series of classes over several years, undertook a self-study, made a commitment to the Outdoor Classroom philosophy and passed a site evaluation by members of the Outdoor Classroom Project Board of Directors.



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