Focus Area:Early Childhood EducationOutdoor Classroom Project

Outdoor Classroom

Every program of early care and education has an outdoor environment and some outdoor activities – but often not enough.

The Outdoor Classroom Project, conducted by the Child Educational Center (CEC), was initially funded from 2003 to 2008 by First 5 LA, in Los Angeles County, to disseminate the philosophy and practice of outdoor programming and environments as critical elements of a quality program of early care and education.

Its primary focus is now in Santa Barbara County, supported through the Orfalea Fund. Grounded in a century of theory, practice and research, this project was developed in response to the dramatic deterioration of children’s outdoor activity in contemporary America.

The goal of the Outdoor Classroom is to increase the quantity, quality and benefit of children’s outdoor experience. View or download the Outdoor Classroom Project summary flyer.

The comprehensive Outdoor Classroom model addresses at least seven of the critical issues facing young children today:

  • Lack of exercise.
  • Preoccupation with electronic media.
  • Lack of safe places to play outside.
  • Isolation and fear of nature.
  • Lack of interest in and understanding of our world including nature and human impact on it.
  • Current trends toward a one dimensional approach to early childhood education.
  • The epidemic use of behavior-modifying drugs on young children.