Last month, St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School in Oakville added itself to the growing list of schools in the Halton Catholic District School Board converting its kindergarten spaces into natural outdoor classrooms.

These outdoor classrooms are the latest advancement in children’s play spaces, and were designed specifically by the YMCA to meet the developmental and learning needs of young children between the ages of 4-5 years old.

“Outdoor classrooms spark the interest of children,” said Lisa Rankin, Vice President of Child Care and Community for the YMCA of Oakville. “There is also a direct correlation between the natural environment and building resiliency, which helps children manage anxiety and stress.”

The outdoor classrooms incorporate rolling terrain, logs, trees, boulders and pathways into a play area that helps inspire children’s creativity. From log bench learning circles to wacky posts and stump steps, the classrooms provide a welcoming and communal outdoor space that promotes children’s physical activity and experiential and multi-sensory learning–all while having fun.

The HCDSB has installed 29 new outdoor classrooms to date, and have long-term plans to convert all of its kindergarten rooms into outdoor classrooms by September 2020.

Providing experiential learning experiences is just one of the many ways Ontario’s Catholic schools nurture the future leaders of tomorrow, while building a longstanding appreciation and relationship with the outdoors.

Join us in celebrating how HCDSB continues to develop innovative educational programs and share this story today.