For Flex Day on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, student teachers, ECAP student apprentices, classified staff, and faculty from the College of San Mateo and Skyline College Child Development Centers, were able to observe the outdoor environments and consider the importance of play and “outdoor classroom” design for young children. 

Maggie Barrientos, the Faculty Coordinator of CSM Child Development Center, hosted the students and staff. The morning started with time to explore the indoor and outdoor classrooms at CSM’s Child Development Center. The CSM program is a beautiful example of an intentional teaching environment and has both indoor and outdoor classroom spaces with engaging learning and play environments for children.

The second stop was at West Valley’s Child Development Center in Saratoga. Tina Watts, the Faculty Coordinator of the Skyline College Child Development Lab Center, facilitated dialogue with students and staff to think about how their ECE courses discuss how to set up outdoor environments that encourage play and social development and what considerations are needed to ensure learning is supported in a variety of ways while immersed in the outdoors and nature. “Talk about contextualized learning! Students and staff got to experience the outdoor learning environment – see, feel and smell how spending time outside of the traditional classroom setting can transform children’s learning and how early educators continue to support all developmental domains in nature. All of us left with so many ideas and inspiration.”   

ECAP student Renne Stewart said, “It was a great experience to see these different environments and learn how other schools set up environments.  I like the outdoor environments because of all the creativity I saw, like using the ramp to play with cars or rolling other items down.  In ECE 910, we learn about outdoor classrooms where all learning occurs outside, rain or shine.”

Article by Michelle Amaral | Photos by Tina Watts and Maggie Barrientos

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