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How the Outdoor Classroom Can Address These Problems The Outdoor Classroom addresses the problems facing children today with certain principles, elements, characteristics, and tenets: Principles • Time—Children benefit from spending substantial time outdoors. • Activities—Even with a minimally developed yard, there are very few children’s activities that cannot be done outside. • Initiation—Children’s development is optimized when they spend a significant amount of time participating in child-initiated activities that are teacher supported. • Nature—Children need a connection to nature in order to be whole. Key Elements • Teachers and program directors must be interested in the Outdoor Classroom and committed to making it happen. • Teachers and program administrators must have the skills and knowledge to make it happen. • Physical resources are needed to support the Outdoor Classroom (toys, equipment, etc.). • Parents, executive management, and owners or governing boards of centers must allow, and hopefully support, the Outdoor Classroom. Characteristics • Children spend substantial periods of time outside, and it is easy and safe for them to get there; they are free to move easily between the indoors and outdoors. • Space is available for all activities, including running. • A full range of activities are available for children to participate in, including many activities that are traditionally thought of as “indoor activities,” even when there isn’t a fully developed yard. The Role of the Outdoor Classroom 3