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Outdoor Preschool Program- what would you want/expect? Cross posted in Education

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

 

Hi, 

 

I've been musing for several years about starting an outdoor preschool program. I'm trying to form more specific goals for this program.  If you wouldn't mind responding to this thread to give me some initial feedback I would greatly appreciate it!

 

Keep in mind: I live in Massachusetts, so it gets cold and icy here!

 

 

Would you enroll your child in a preschool program which is predominantly outside all school year?

 

Would you enroll them as an alternative to a regular preschool or as a supplement in addition to their regular preschool?

 

Would you want/expect "academics" to a part of this program (reading, math skills, etc.)?

 

How many days a week would you be interested in (3-5 years old)?  How many hours?

 

Would you prefer to enroll for a whole year or have the option of only signing up by semester?

 

If your child is in half day kindergarten, would you be interested in this as an afternoon program for them?

 

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?

 

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?

 

What percentage of outdoor time vs. indoor time would be ideal for you?  (i.e. 75% of time outside, 25% inside, etc.)

 

Any other concerns/opinions/ideas?

 

Thanks so much!

post #2 of 9
Interesting idea!! Not sure if we're doing preschool but here are my thoughts:

Would you enroll your child in a preschool program which is predominantly outside all school year?
My DS is not very tolerant of the cold, so I would not want him out all winter, but the rest of the year sounds nice.

Would you enroll them as an alternative to a regular preschool or as a supplement in addition to their regular preschool?
At this point, I'd say instead of regular preschool, but again, I'm not sure we're doing preschool at all, so I feel a bit biased.

Would you want/expect "academics" to a part of this program (reading, math skills, etc.)?
I would expect some kind of science/nature/outdoors type instruction and maybe work some basic skills into it as well, though I wouldn't expect that to be the focus.

How many days a week would you be interested in (3-5 years old)? How many hours?
2-3 days a week for 4-5 hours/day

Would you prefer to enroll for a whole year or have the option of only signing up by semester?
semester

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?
Hmm I guess I would expect a fully-equipped building with regular bathrooms and a large play space, and in the outdoor space I'd want a good amount of shade and some kind of rain shelter (tarp or pavilion).

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?
I don't know, -15F? I wouldn't go by the temp as long as they have adequate clothing. But I would want the children's individual comfort level to be taken into consideration.

What percentage of outdoor time vs. indoor time would be ideal for you? (i.e. 75% of time outside, 25% inside, etc.)
100% outdoors on 'nice' days, 75% on rainy days, 50% or less on very cold/windy/icky days
post #3 of 9

Would you enroll your child in a preschool program which is predominantly outside all school year?

no, my children also do not tolerate really cold weather well, at least not for more than an 1/2 or so.  Non-hat/mittens weather would be fine. 

Would you enroll them as an alternative to a regular preschool or as a supplement in addition to their regular preschool?

alternative

Would you want/expect "academics" to a part of this program (reading, math skills, etc.)?

Not necessary, I would see it more as an alternative to traditional pre-school.  More of an un-schooling approach would be expected, not just glorified play.

How many days a week would you be interested in (3-5 years old)?  How many hours?

2 days, 2-3 hours per day

Would you prefer to enroll for a whole year or have the option of only signing up by semester?

By semester, so we could avoid really cold months

If your child is in half day kindergarten, would you be interested in this as an afternoon program for them?

n/a, but yes that sounds reasonable

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?

necessary, especially if kids seem to be getting too cold, there would need to be a plan to go inside and continue doing something.  Or say it's pouring out..or thundering...etc.

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?

Don't know

What percentage of outdoor time vs. indoor time would be ideal for you?  (i.e. 75% of time outside, 25% inside, etc.)

If the concept is an outdoor pre-school program, 75% 25% sounds reasonable

Any other concerns/opinions/ideas?

I'm curious as to what you would do for hours at a time outdoors with many little ones, all year round... sounds intriguing though!

post #4 of 9

Drumlin Farm in Lincoln has a preschool- you may want to check it out for comparisons.

post #5 of 9

The Natick Community Organic Farm also has a program that my DD is in. It's called Forest Gnomes, and she's been thriving! But yes, another point for comparison for you. Good luck!

post #6 of 9

My son also goes to an Audubon preschool at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton.  He is there 2 days per week for 2 hrs each day.  They spend about half of their time outdoors, depending on the day, and they learn through play and nature exploration.  They do a craft each day, take a nature hike, play outdoors, have snack and read a story or two.  There is a theme for each week and we the sessions are about 10-12 weeks long. It is for ages 3-6. We love it.  Sounds similar to what you are describing although maybe not quite as much time outdoors?  I also live in MA so it gets cold here - I think a good balance is 50/50 in the colder months at this age.

post #7 of 9

 

Would you enroll your child in a preschool program which is predominantly outside all school year?

Yes- although my youngest is in her last year of preschool- so I would have loved the opportunity

 

Would you enroll them as an alternative to a regular preschool or as a supplement in addition to their regular preschool?

Either option-  I'd prefer something 3 days a week for preschool but we've also done supplemental programs at places that met just once a week.
Often parent child programs met once a week, first year of preschool (age 3) was 1 or 2 days and 2nd year of preschool was 3-5 days- so there are lots of options.

 

Would you want/expect "academics" to a part of this program (reading, math skills, etc.)?

I would not.  I would expect that learning opportunities were facilitated thru some of the activities.  Most opportunities would be spur of the moment or instigated by things the children is used ot. Free play and nature's opportunities being the best place to free learn and get plenty of free play and facilitated socialization.

 

How many days a week would you be interested in (3-5 years old)?  How many hours?

3-4 yrs  2  days   3-4 hours

4-5 yrs  3 - 4 days  4-5 hours

or 1 day a week

This is slightly longer than many of the programs we've done, but I do like the option of lunch with the group- especially if I'm driving a ways for the program.  I also love the idea of the preschools making snacks and/or lunches together- but that's a whole other element 

 

Would you prefer to enroll for a whole year or have the option of only signing up by semester?

If it was a new program- probably per semester. 

 

If  your child is in half day kindergarten, would you be interested in this as an afternoon program for them?

Maybe once a week- but not every day

 

 

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?

Hmm, if the plan would be to be outside and there are spaces for learning outside I'd just expect something for bathroom breaks and inclement days- and it could be pretty basic- unglamorous- even just a shelter w/o electric heat, although some form of reassurance for safety (cell phone, backup site phone) would probably be important.

I guess peeing in the woods is problematic--- wonder what the outdoor schools in other countries do?   With the way preschoolers are, this seems a bit challenging to plan for, especially if you want to maintain a teacher ratio where kids are not left with just one adult-- so you'd need 4 teachers if you don't want to trek the whole group to the bathrooms when someone forgets they needed to go.

 

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?

Temperature isn't as important to me as things like wind and rain.  It can be challenging to figure out the right clothing for the weather- because you really do have to dress appropriately, so I'd expect some hand holding and education of parents would have to happen.  

I'm not sure how it works..., I believe the schools use some mandated temp??  

 

 

What percentage of outdoor time vs. indoor time would be ideal for you?  (i.e. 75% of time outside, 25% inside, etc.)

I'd save the indoor time for days with inclement weather.  50-50 to 75-25 sounds fine.  Things that would concern me would be shade, mosquitos/ticks.

 

 

Any other concerns/opinions/ideas?

I can think of one person on the Cape who did a program based  on Waldrindergarten, but I only know others who attended- wish I had been able to, it sounded lovely.

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_kindergarten

lmk if you want more info.   

 

Good luck!  

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessjgh1 View Post


 

 

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?

Hmm, if the plan would be to be outside and there are spaces for learning outside I'd just expect something for bathroom breaks and inclement days- and it could be pretty basic- unglamorous- even just a shelter w/o electric heat, although some form of reassurance for safety (cell phone, backup site phone) would probably be important.

I guess peeing in the woods is problematic--- wonder what the outdoor schools in other countries do?   With the way preschoolers are, this seems a bit challenging to plan for, especially if you want to maintain a teacher ratio where kids are not left with just one adult-- so you'd need 4 teachers if you don't want to trek the whole group to the bathrooms when someone forgets they needed to go.

 

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?

Temperature isn't as important to me as things like wind and rain.  It can be challenging to figure out the right clothing for the weather- because you really do have to dress appropriately, so I'd expect some hand holding and education of parents would have to happen.  

I'm not sure how it works..., I believe the schools use some mandated temp??  

 

 

 

At my daughter's program, they use a camp toilet. They do have a little house where they can go inside if need be, but they try to spend as much of the 4 hours outside. They have detailed instructions as to how to dress the children based on the experiences they have thus far. No cotton at all during cold wet weather, for instance, and good layering. For rainy ays (or just muddy ones) we bought puddle pants through A Toy Garden, which are fantastic.
 

 

post #9 of 9

 

 

Would you enroll your child in a preschool program which is predominantly outside all school year?  Yes, but only until it gets too cold.

 

Would you enroll them as an alternative to a regular preschool or as a supplement in addition to their regular preschool? alternative, because I don't anticipate wanting 5 days of preschool anyhow.  

 

Would you want/expect "academics" to a part of this program (reading, math skills, etc.)?  not really.  no to reading, math skills would be just counting, no arithmatic.

 

How many days a week would you be interested in (3-5 years old)?  How many hours?  3 days a week for a 3 year old, 4 days 4 year old, 5 days 5 year old.   As for hours, home in time for nap after lunch.

 

Would you prefer to enroll for a whole year or have the option of only signing up by semester?  don't know

 

If your child is in half day kindergarten, would you be interested in this as an afternoon program for them?  yes, for 2 or 3 days

 

What would in expect in the way of access to shelter and bathrooms?  bathrooms should be warm enough that they are comfortable going.  shelter only necessary for rainy and freezing cold days.

 

What would you expect to be the lowest temperature in which children are allowed to remain outside?  playing outside when it's 32-45 degrees is fine for a short period, but not the whole day.  For the whole day, probably 45 degrees. Also depends on whether it's a damp or dry cold, and the wind.

 

What percentage of outdoor time vs. indoor time would be ideal for you?  (i.e. 75% of time outside, 25% inside, etc.)  Depends on the day's weather

 

Any other concerns/opinions/ideas?

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