Our licensed child care environments provide children with the opportunity to explore their curiosity, sense of wonderment, and experimentation across the seasons.
Playgrounds and parks are increasingly becoming centered around dated metal and plastic structures that do not reflect the greater community and offer limited learning opportunities. Our YMCA playgrounds replace the use of plastic and unnatural materials with more realistic items children can find or regularly see within their environment, such as rocks, crates, rope, cardboard, rubber tires, etc. These items do not have a particular use but are transformed to match the child’s imagination. A tire could be a fishing pond, steering weel or hula hoop!
Children can learn across all developmental domains through hands-on activities in all types of weather. Getting messy is a natural part of this engagement and learning. Dirt, mud, sand, water, and snow are fun! The Y has invested in mud suits for all children to use while in the program so that rain and mud are not barriers to Outdoor Play.
Emerging evidence shows correlations between the risks of overstructured and overscheduled play in indoor settings with declining resiliency in young children. Research also shows that children who spend time outdoors with access to engaging learning materials have higher opportunities for holistic development across domains.
Playing outdoors is one of the best ways to experience and develop gross and fine motor skills. Having space to run, jump, climb, splash, and crawl is essential to healthy child development.
Children make sense of the world through their experiences and interactions with others. Children must build on their creativity and imagination just as much as taking turns, social cues, and independence.
Unstructured play presents many opportunities for children to use their mind. Cause and effect, problem solving, reasoning, and self-control are all evident in Outdoor Play.
Children are exposed to a variety of materials and elements. Since outdoor spaces are often unpredictable (weather, seasons, etc.), new language opportunities are always present.
In unstructured play, children play an active role in creating boundaries and social norms unique to the environment.