That word is something everyone can relate to. We can think back to where we played, how much we played, and how it made us feel.
Play helped shape us into who we grew up to be. We know it has purpose, but how do we measure it? More specifically, how do we measure outdoor play?
Outdoor play is open-ended play within a natural environment that allows children to choose what they want to do. WinSport understands its importance to childhood development and facilitates it through the Early Explorers program. These are the four pillars and outcomes that are key to the Early Explorers program and give it purpose:
So, how do we know that these outcomes are being achieved? Well, we developed an evaluation tool that allowed us to observe kids during their outdoor play and count the amount of times we saw an outcome being expressed and record how it was expressed. For example, if a child was seen jumping off a rock, a tally would be marked in the outcome ‘supported risk taking’. We would write down exactly what we saw. And let me tell you, we had some great results!
The graph to the right shows the data that was collected by a teacher from just one class. Each outcome was expressed through various activities. For example, kids were using mud as concrete to reinforce a pirate ship they built. How creative! Despite the rain, kids were happy to play outside, which further develops their relationships with nature. And holy smokes, these kids love to move! Whether they were wolves crawling around or jut kids wanting to climb trees or tables, they were rarely sitting down.
The graph to the left was from the parent’s perspective. At the end of the spring season, we gathered survey responses from the parents and asked them what they think their child’s biggest improvement was from the start of the season. We then related the responses to our program outcomes. We were excited to see that the parents were noticing the benefits of the program, too!
What did we learn?
These responses showed us that our purpose is being achieved! The kids in Early Explorers are receiving quality programming unlike any other. Our emergent curriculum allows us to support kids in a way that encourages outdoor play and fosters intentional childhood development.
Overall, the evaluation tool allowed us to record specific instances of when kids were developing each curriculum outcome. We were then able to compare that data with what the parents thought their children were gaining from the program and the results were similar.
We are thankful to all the parents that answered our survey questions that provided us with further insight about the program. We look forward to the fall season!
Early Explorers team