As early learning programs move forward to enhance outdoor play pedagogy and the experiences of children, progressive programs are adjusting their philosophy statements to explicitly identify outdoor play. Ideally, these philosophy statements include the components outlined below.
Early learning teachers begin the process of determining their philosophy first by defining what the word philosophy means to them. Generally, a philosophy statement is founded on research and reflective of children’s development. Think about a definition of philosophy in relation to a system of principles for guiding outdoor play. What would the principles of outdoor play look like? What types of knowledge or conduct would support your philosophical orientation?
Early learning centres and individuals articulate their philosophies about outdoor play because the assumptions that are made about outdoor play programming and children’s development influence training, programming and the experiences that are extended to the children.
While your workplace may have a philosophy or program statement, an important part of your role is to consider your own philosophy as it relates to outdoor play. Your philosophy towards outdoor play is a narrative or story that can be built with the following five parts:
- Your beliefs about the connections between children’s development, health and learning as it relates to outdoor play;
- Your beliefs about the way children and adults learn outdoors;
- Your motivation for supporting and enhancing children’s outdoor play opportunities (Dietze & Kashin, 2016);
- Your goals for children as they relate to their outdoor play; and
- Your beliefs about the relationship between children’s increased opportunities for outdoor play and broader issues such as environmental sustainability.
Creating statements connected to the bullet points will give you a starting point for your philosophy towards outdoor play. This should not be a static document. It is important to revisit, reflect on and revise your philosophy as you develop as a researcher and educator.