Written by Kim Hawley, ECE Professor and Program Coordinator
When our Early Childhood Education students graduate, they will be setting up programs for children and their families that allow for a sense of belonging and cultivate authentic, caring relationships and connections. For them to do this upon graduation, we need to emulate these practices in our classrooms, so that they understand what this looks like and how it feels.
We have found interesting and creative ways to do this in our virtual classrooms, but when we can we have brought them together for outdoor classes at the College to engage in these practices in person. In our most recent outdoor class, the students had the opportunity to create outdoor play experiences for children that would allow them to engage in elements of risky play.
Here is what some of the students had to say about these classes:
"From our outdoor labs I was able to connect with others in my program, we were able to feed off each other's ideas to create great activities for children to engage in. I learned that working as a team makes for better creations to come alive."
"The experience of having a lab class was awesome, get to finally know my classmates in person was great, I could share ideas and work cooperatively with most of them. I could finally see faces (behind masks) and not only listen to voices. Thank you so much for this learning opportunity!"
"Thank you for the outdoor lab. From class I have learned a lot about how to interact and help children to problem solve, and to help them express themselves."
"It was so wonderful to connect with classmates I had only previously met virtually. It was a little strange to feel like you know someone you have never even met. Getting outside and feeling 'normal' again was a huge boost in well-being. Also, getting to smash pumpkins outside was a great stress reliever."