The Outdoor Classroom
Spring Hill School is located on a knoll with a panoramic view of the beautiful Green Mountains. Our outdoor environment serves as an extended classroom that changes with each season. Throughout the day, children have many opportunities to play and learn outdoors. In addition to large blocks of time for free play, during morning choice time we will often take a small group of children outside to adventure walk in the woods, snowshoe, watercolor paint in the fairy garden, collect and create leaf sculptures, or enjoy a puddle stomp in the mud. Time after time we observe that when children are outside, their capacity for imaginative play grows to new heights.
In the woods, a downed tree becomes a horse, a rock becomes a rocket ship and a mossy patch a cozy bed. Unencumbered by walls and “real” toys, children are free to truly use their imaginations to set the stage for adventure and dramatic play. The experiences we have outdoors offer unique opportunities for healthy risk-taking, social interactions, spatial awareness and stewardship of the Earth and its flora and fauna. We also find that we, as adults, are renewed and reenergized by our adventures outside with children. In an age when children have more and more screen time, we at Spring Hill are increasingly committed to cherishing our outdoor classroom environment and all that it has to offer. We have invested in ongoing professional development for all of our teachers focused on nature-based learning and early childhood development and will continue to prioritize this important aspect of our work.