In January, 2020, S.E.A. gave a grant to PeoplePlace toe send two teachers for professional development at Herring Gut Learning Center. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced Herring Gut to cancel courses last summer, but PeoplePlace developed a terrific alternative that Director Sessa Salas explained to the Board of S.E.A.
I was talking with my two lead teachers yesterday about what our fall might look like when we reopen. Our goal is for children to spend as much time OUTSIDE as possible! We then proceeded to discuss the potential barriers to that. One of those is gear. Good gear. For children to be able to spend long periods of time outside, they need the proper, high-quality gear to keep them from getting wet and cold, thereby preventing them from being comfortable outside playing, exploring, getting dirty, experimenting with water, dirt, and other natural elements. If we had this gear for children to use, it would be used for years to come and for many, many children. I have priced out some Grundens – good quality rain gear that can also go over snow suits to keep children dry and warm in any kind of inclement weather. Hamilton Marine was willing to give us a price break… so we could afford to buy 10 sets (20 pieces).
Something else that is a priority right now is to expand our “outdoor classroom” to include “centers” for tinkering, music, dramatic play, building some climbing elements in the woods, etc. If we are moving to more of an outdoor program, which in light of the pandemic, we feel is the right move, building these learning stations will enable us to serve more children at all ages. Our outdoor classroom program is currently one day a week for just our oldest students. We are looking to expand that to include all of the children in our program multiple days of the week. This money would go a long way to help us develop that outside area. We could buy supplies needed to intentionally set up the space for teaching young children so many skills related to science, nature, the arts, and engage them in activities that will foster a life-long love of learning – OUTSIDE!