Daily Herald: Outdoor learning is central to curriculum
As JCC Chicago Early Childhood reopened its doors in three North Shore locations for the new school year, children entered with smiling eyes over masked faces. With a curriculum based on Reggio Emilia, a nature-based, child-centered approach to learning that relies heavily on the concept of outdoor classrooms, the fresh air energizes students and provides soothing sensory input, which has been especially welcome during this pandemic.
Experiencing nature is critical to stimulating children’s imagination and curiosity, so the J has prioritized year-round outdoor learning as a key component of the curriculum for years now, even prior to COVID-19. “Research shows outdoor learning improves self-regulation, advances gross motor skill development, increases concentration, and promotes self-confidence,” said Jen Rosenfeld, director of Bernard Weinger JCC Chicago Early Childhood. “Therefore, a love of science and math is developed when students practice counting real objects that they find, such as rocks, acorns, or leaves.Their learning and literacy are strengthened when the same skills, ideas, and concepts are applied in new contexts.”