children playing

Increasing outdoor play in early learning and child care in the context of COVID-19

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Publication Date: 
13 Jul 2020

Excerpted from report

Use of the outdoors is underestimated and overlooked as both a significant COVID-19 mitigation strategy in children’s settings, and as an important learning environment for early learning and child care (ELCC). And yet outdoor play supports health protection goals to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while providing developmental benefits for children. This statement outlines:

• the context for increasing children’s opportunities for outdoor play;

• the evidence-based rationale for maximizing outdoor play in ELCC;

• the feasibility of increasing high-quality outdoor play through existing ELCC resources;

• issues that require harmonizing public health and ELCC perspectives to recognize the outdoors as a distinct learning environment in order to fully enable outdoor play; and

• policy, practice, and research recommendations to increase opportunities for outdoor play in ELCC.

This statement is intended for all levels of government developing public health and ELCC guidance as well as ELCC programs (community-based and publicly delivered) and post-secondary early childhood education programs. The statement was developed in consultation with advisors from public health and ELCC (see p. i) to inform evolving guidance to support the re-opening and implementation of high-quality ELCC programs for young children (birth through preschool) and school-age children (up to age 12).