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In 2010, our proprietor Lisa Boni began an action research study on the subject of the restorative effects of natural environments on children’s health and wellbeing. This research led Lisa to devote her time to reviewing literature on the topic, and ultimately to writing her master’s thesis on the subject of advocating for children’s right to freely experience green settings. Below you will find various resources for parents centered around our philosophy here at Little Tot's.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world's largest organization working on behalf of young children, has revised their Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) position statement to define a child’s need for daily “opportunities to interact with the outdoor world” (2009. p. 17). This crucial interaction with nature however is definitely not contemporary knowledge. Friedrich Froebel understood this need when he founded the first ever Kindergarten in 1837. Froebel believed highly in the value of children’s nature experiences and began creating his idea for the children’s garden based on the ideas of Rousseau and Pestalozzi. Froebel took Pestalozzi’s principals of observation and combined them with actions, specifically through inventive activities (Marenholtz-Buelow, 1887, para. 1). From the beginning, Froebel’s Kindergarten was always within nature, a garden of streams, trees and natural areas devoted specifically for young children (Johnson, Christie & Wardle, 2005, p. 362).Urie Bronfenbrenner, the father of Head Start, looked at a child’s development within a system of relationships that make up the child’s environment, his Ecological Systems Theory. All four different systems within this theory, Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem and Macrosystem, relate in part to the outdoor environment. Within his theory, Bronfenbrenner proposed that development is influenced by all of these systems collectively. Meaning that a child’s opportunity to experience nature is effected by his family, his school, and his community (1998). Here at Little Tot's we highly value the outdoors and provide significant time each day for children to play in our natural outdoor classroom. A founding principal at Little Tot’s has always been that children have the right to learn and grow in a healthy natural environment which includes the opportunity to play and learn outdoors as well as indoors. Experience and research have shown that there are a multitude of cognitive as well as physical, emotional and social benefits to experiencing natural outdoor settings. It has also been found that children need that direct connection to the earth to restore wellbeing and peace in their minds. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Johnson, J., Christie J., & Wardle, F. (2005). Play, Development, and Early Education. Pearson Education: United StatesMarenholtz-Buelow, B. (1887). Reminiscences of Froebel. Retrieved from http://www.froebelweb.org/web3000.htmlNational Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs ServingChildren from Birth through Age 8. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/position%20statement%20Web.pdf
1. We vacuum every day.
2. We do not use chemical-based aerosol sprays for room freshening. We use only fresh air, natural orange peel spray, and essential oils.
3. We do not allow any smoking in our house.
4. We use a 90% efficiency furnace that continually pulls fresh air from the outdoors. Our furnace has a second heat exchanger which supplements the primary heat and saves energy.
5. We keep our home dry with a humidity control sensor on our furnace.
6. We change our furnace filter once every four months.
We believe that home should be the safest place in the whole world. And, that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice powerful convictions for powerful cleaners.
7. When children are present, we use all-natural cleaners such as Shaklee Get Clean products. Many years ago, I learned that most of the products meant to ‘clean’ our homes actually contain alarming amounts of poisons. Poisons that cause immediate harm, and ones that can cause ailments such as asthma, cancer, and emphysema. According to the national organization, Safe Kids USA, there are more than 1.2 million unintentional poisonings per year of kids under five years old. Shaklee Get Clean products contain natural biodegradable cleaning agents. They also have no phosphates, borates, nitrates, or other stuff the planet doesn’t appreciate.
Only for sanitation reasons do we use any other cleaning agents and we are very careful that children are not exposed to any fumes or wet surfaces when we do so.
8. Each day we choose healthy meals for the children. We eat many fresh fruits and locally grown vegetables while limiting refined sugars, processed meats, and prepackaged foods. Thanks to our teachers’ great cooking skills, we are able to pre-plan and prepare several homemade meals each week.
9. In 2011, Mr. Lou created a children’s garden! He built a special place just for little green thumbs. Having a garden has been phenomenal! The children have planted many yummy vegetables, including tomatoes, corn, lettuce, green peppers, peas, carrots, sunflowers, broccoli and cauliflower. We also have grown our very own watermelon! Gardening has been a wonderful introduction into the world of fresh food! Because the children grow the food they take special interest in trying all of the food too. The most satisfying part of the whole process is watching the children devour all the grape tomatoes they can during outdoor free time every afternoon!
10. Here at Little Tot’s we recycle Glass, Aluminum and other Metals, Paper, Plastic and Print Cartridges. 11. We purchase items in bulk to cut down on packaging. 12. We reuse and up-cycle as many items as we can through art projects, class activities and storage (plastic snack containers make great classroom material holders).
13. We donate to charity any toys, supplies, clothing or materials that we no longer are using or need in our classroom.