Outdoor Classroom

Nature In The Daily Lives Of Children

Nature play and learning
Nature Play is about learning

At Stonebrook Day School of Murfreesboro, preschoolers and nature education go hand-in-hands. Young children are endlessly curious, relatively unafraid and unbiased, and nature is something that preschoolers can experience directly. Their brains are wired to learn as they construct knowledge through sensory-motor and concrete experiences. They are even built for it; they are closer to the ground than we are.

Characteristics of the Outdoor Classroom

    • Most activities that can be done indoors can be done outdoors. Some activities occur best outdoors; some can only occur outdoors.
    • Children spend substantial periods of time outside, and it is easy and safe for them to get there.
    • There is a full range of activities for children to participate in, including many activities that are traditionally thought of as “indoor activities.”
    • The outdoor space offers a balance of areas for physically active and less active play.
    • While outside, children frequently have the opportunity to initiate their own learning experiences and activities, with teachers available to support them.
    • The outdoor curriculum evolves from and changes with children’s changing needs and interests.
    • Children experience nature in as many ways as possible.
Our forest is a classroom, literally!

Scientific research in early childhood development is revealing the critical connection between time spent innate sand the outdoors and a child’s developing brain. Immersive time in nature fosters a child’s intellectual, emotional, pychological and physical growth. Daily play experiences in a natural area significantly increase balance and coordination among preschoolers. The level of vegetation in play areas makes a significant difference in the incidence of play, with more play occurring in high-vegetation spaces. A child’s desire to connect with nature is strongly tied to the philosophy of Stonebrook Day School.

“The highlight of our experience has been the playscape and Stonebrook Forest. They afford the children an opportunity to get outside and explore, learn and engage in a natural setting. Our son especially flourishes in the natural classroom. Typically more reserved in the classroom at school, he is actively involved on the playscape and in the forest. Uncovering worms below rocks, writing in the sand and organizing imaginative play with his friends, our son comfortably explores and learns here.” ~Stonebrook Day School parent

When experiences with nature are embedded in the preschool curriculum and daily routine, children benefit physically, emotionally, and intellectually as they have new experiences, exercise their bodies, and enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes from being connected to the natural world. This also helps them to become good stewards of the earth’s resources!