Program and Curriculum

Outdoor Play

Children need to spend some time outdoors each day.toddler with leaves
Sadly though, studies have found that children are spending way less time outdoors than they should be.

We all know the gross motor benefits of playing outdoors, but there are soooo many other reasons children need to go outside as well. For starters, they need the fresh air, the feeling of warm sunshine, and the interaction with nature.

Along with the aforementioned gross motor development, children learn body awareness, learn new skills, build self confidence, and move their body in ways they cannot indoors. All seven of the senses are at work when children play outside. In particular, many outdoor activities can promote both vestibular and proprioceptive development.

But, what do children learn from playing outdoors?

Children play together, form teams, take turns, and build together outdoors. There are often special health and safety rules children must learn and follow outdoors as well.

child holding a bugThere is no better science lab than the back yard. Outdoors, children interact with nature, get firsthand experience with the weather and seasons and can observe colors, textures, shapes and patterns that occur in nature. As children play outdoors, they ask questions, make hypothesis about what will happen, and then test their hypothesis.

Outdoor play does not have to end at the back fence. While going for walks or taking fieldtrips, children learn about their neighbors, society and the world around them. We have the opportunity to teach a deep respect for nature and our planet.

Learning from the outdoors also doesn’t have to stop once we go back indoors. We can use materials from nature in art, and learning activities, and plant indoors as well. I have also visited many family child care providers who have created entire classrooms outdoors in addition to their indoor environments. Very cool!

On this page you will find ideas, resources and materials to help you incorporate outdoor play into your program and curriculum.


Online Resources – Articles, Websites, Videos, Etc…
Programmatic Information and Resources

Public Policy Matters, Because Child Care Keeps America Working,
And All Children Have A Right To Quality Early Care And Education.

Without child care, parents cannot go to work, school or training. Public policy not only dictates the availability of child care, but it also affects the quality and affordability of child care. It determines funding levels and legislation, regulation and oversight. Whether we realize it or not, politicians have a say in what the child care workforce earns, education and professional development requirements, and child care and early education standards.

If we do not educate ourselves on public policy and provide input and feedback, legislators make all the decisions and have total control over the early care and education system. Often, these decision makers don’t have any children of their own, or, if they do have kids, they may not face the same challenges and obstacles that many families face on a daily basis.

One of the biggest challenges families face is paying for child care. Child care is expensive, and many families can barely afford to work. This isn’t just an issue for low-income families either. Many middle income families are struggling to pay for daycare.

What happens when a parent can’t afford quality child care? He or she either can’t work, go to school or get training, or they are forced to leave their child in poor quality care, or worse, they feel they have no choice but to leave their child alone while they go to work. No parent should ever have to make these choices.

Yes, there are some funds available to help parents pay for child care, but the funding only pays for a very small percentage of families that meet the income eligibility requirements. Thousands of children are eligible for subsidies in virtually every state, but their parents can’t get help because there simply isn’t enough funding. And what about those middle income families that struggle to pay for daycare? Making high quality child care accessible to all families needs be a priority.

Some other areas where you might want to get involved in public policy and advocacy are Quality and Quality Rating Systems, Early Childhood Workforce Issues, Special Needs and Inclusion, Licensing and Oversight, Professional Development, Affordable Health and Dental Care for Children and Families or Universal Pre-school.

These are just some of the areas where you might get involved. I will be putting together resources here to help you understand the issues, and link you to advocacy organizations and campaigns working on the issues so that you can get involved.

Every family faces their own challenges, but it’s very likely that other families are also struggling with the same issue. It is only when we come together that we realize we are not alone with our struggles. And it is only when we work together and raise our voices as one, that we make ourselves heard to those who need to hear.

Think about this: Your representatives at all levels, local, state and federal, know that if they hear from 5 parents about an issue, then chances are, there are at least, another 500 other parents out there with the same issue. That’s a lot of votes. Parents and providers often don’t realize just how much political power they have. But remember, you don’t have any power unless you use it. I encourage you all to exercise your power.

I believe it IS possible to make high quality, affordable child care available to all families, and for the early childhood workforce to be compensated at comparable levels to K-12. But, not unless families and providers demand it….

A Day without Child Care

Defunding Child Care: What Are They Thinking?

Why Early Investment Matters

Brain Hero

Early Childhood Program Effectiveness


SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants between 1 month and 12 months of age.

SIDS is the unexpected death of a seemingly healthy infant under one year of age for whom no cause of death can be determined. SIDS is most common among infants that are 2 – 4 months old, however, babies can die of SIDS until they are 1 year old.

The exact causes of SIDS are unknown, but SIDS is NOT:

  • Caused by immunizations
  • Caused by vomiting or choking
  • SIDS is NOT the same thing as suffocation

The ABC’s of Safe Sleep

SIDS Risk Factors During Pregnancy
  • Low birth weight (under 5 pounds)
  • Premature (less than 37 weeks)
  • Maternal smoking (during pregnancy and after birth)
  • Multiple births (eg, twins, triplets)
  • Maternal age (younger than 18 years)
  • Less than 18 months between births

SIDS in Child Care
About one in five SIDS deaths occur while an infant is being cared for by someone other than a parent. The chance of SIDS occurring is highest when an infant first starts child care.

“Unaccustomed Tummy Sleeping.”
Unaccustomed tummy sleeping increases the risk of SIDS. Babies who are used to sleeping on their backs and placed to sleep on their tummies are 18 times more likely to die from SIDS.

Safe Sleep Practices

  • Healthy babies should always sleep on their backs.
  • Use safety-approved cribs and firm mattresses
  • Keep cribs free of toys, stuffed animals, and extra bedding
  • If a blanket is used, place the child’s feet to the foot of the crib
  • Sleep only 1 baby per crib
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature
  • Do not use wedges or infant positioners
  • Never allow smoking in a room where babies sleep
  • Have supervised “tummy time” for babies who are awake
  • Monitor sleeping babies.
  • Teach all staff, substitutes, and volunteers about safe sleep policies and practices

There are unique risks posed by portable cribs, including risks from improper assembly and setup. Programs must be aware of the need for additional guidance regarding use of playpens and portable cribs. If playpens and portable cribs are used, be sure that:

  • The crib is properly assembled and locked in position to avoid accidental collapse
  • Use of outdated or recalled cribs is avoided
  • The playpen or portable crib is not near items that might lead to strangulation

The Importance of Tummy Time
Awake babies should be placed in a variety of positions, including on their tummies, for example, after every nap, diaper change and feeding. Start by placing the baby on his/her tummy for 1-2 minutes and slowly increase the time. New parents are told of the importance of babies sleeping on their backs to avoid SIDS, but they are not always informed about the importance of tummy time.

Ask Yourself…

  • What would make it difficult to adopt the safe sleep standards?
  • How can you overcome these difficulties?
  • What 2 steps will you take to ensure safer sleep at your child care?

Program and Child Assessments

We are working on this page, please check back soon!

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