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Advancing outdoor play and early childhood education: A discussion paper

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Lawson Foundation
Publication Date: 
1 May 2019

EXCERPTS from the executive summary

Outdoor play as a means of fostering healthy child development and high-quality early learning experiences is attracting increasing attention. Implementation efforts in early childhood education programs are on the rise despite a number of barriers to progress. Post-secondary education and training do not tend to prepare early childhood educators for outdoor play. While professional development is emerging to fill the gap, demand is increasing quickly: multiple sectors require various levels of education and training to support early childhood education, particularly in regards to understanding and managing risk. At the same time, early childhood education policies and practices governing children’s outdoor play are not well developed, resulting in gaps and barriers to outdoor play. Given the critical importance of both early childhood education and outdoor play to healthy child development,1,2,3 it is imperative that multiple sectors work together to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for outdoor play in early childhood education programs.

In October 2018, the Lawson Foundation convened leaders from multiple sectors at the Outdoor Play and Early Learning Policy Research Symposium at the Kingbridge Centre, King City, Ontario, to explore how to advance outdoor play and early childhood education across policy, practice, and research. This discussion paper summarizes the six major themes that emerged from the Symposium presentations and discussions.


Entered Date: 
22 May 2019
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