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“The children are just too wild when we go out- side!” This is a common fear related to taking chil- dren outdoors. The first few times you move an activity outside or have “recess” twice in one day, the children will naturally be very excited and active. This is normal! As they get used to being outside more often, and having more freedom when they do, you’ll find that they can handle the freedom quite well. In fact, many educators find that after repeated, consis- tent time outside, children are better able to manage their energy indoors, when they need to be settled and concentrate. yourself that the benefits of being outdoors far out- weigh the inconveniences of cleaning the muddy floor. Work with your custodial staff to remind them of the important “work” you are doing by playing outdoors in all kinds of weather. Engage the children in cleaning up the floor after messy outdoor play. Be willing to help clean up. Ask families to provide a change of clothes, and remind them that getting dirty is good for children’s development! “What if someone picks up a rock or a stick?” You can be sure that as long as there are rocks and sticks, there will always be children who want to play with them. (In fact, the stick itself is so popular among children it was inducted into the 2008 National Toy Hall of Fame.) Set clear parameters with the children. If you aren’t comfortable with them holding sticks or rocks, make that a rule for outdoor time. Try also to “I am concerned someone will get hurt, stung, or sunburned.” Safety considerations are as important outdoors as they are inside. To ensure the safety of the children in your care, take the same precautions outside as you take indoors: pay attention to your surroundings and minimize risk where needed. Be aware of any allergies that children may have, such as to bee stings, and have first aid equipment on hand. Remember, practice makes perfect: the more you go outside, the more familiar and comfortable you (and the children) will be with the surroundings and their inherent risks. Apply sunscreen or bug repellent if your policies allow it, or remind parents to apply it to their children before drop-off. Educate yourself about insects, such as ticks, as well as plants and animals considered to be hazardous in your area. Your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a good place to find this information. Creating a Greener Earth 11