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Wonder Newsletter — July/August 2011

July/August 2011
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/wonder-newsletter--july-august-2011/5020097/

The real benefits of nature play every day
by Deanna M. Erickson and Julie Athman Ernst

When watching a child bury her nose in a flower, find a bizarre alien-like insect, or splash in a creek, most of us who care for small children can see value in the wholesome goodness of fresh air and a little time to run around outside. Even the most urban child care facility typically has a small patch of outdoor play space. As children stretch and explore the outdoors, they experience a certain kind of joy that many adults remember feeling as children, as did their parents before them. A sunny afternoon playing outside is an American tradition,
happily experienced and fondly remembered.

But the effort of preparing small children for outdoor play " the jackets, the shoes, the bathroom breaks " or the risk of a fall, or a sting, or of getting dirty can feel overwhelming, especially when children are of varied ages or when a child care facility is short-handed. Providers in intensively urban areas or low-income neighborhoods face additional challenges like limited access to natural spaces, children who might not be comfortable in the outdoors, or who lack appropriate clothing. They may ...

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