Start from where you are: Assess the play value in your outdoor-play area by asking:
- How do the pieces on our play area encourge children to interact as they play?
- Are there any pieces that are used more often than others?
- What can children really do in our outdoor-play area?
- How many different kinds of play can happen in our outdoor-play area? What equipment or props can we add to inspire additional and more imaginative kinds of play?
- Where do children spend most of their time on our outdoor-play area? How can we make our children utilize all parts of the playground and in different ways?
- Do children have opportunities to change the space?
Assess your programming for play--both outside and inside:
- Is it possible to move more curriculum outside or off the tables and onto the floor? For example, when you're working with the children on a unit related to transportation, could you do it outside on a path or hard surface instead of inside at the table?
Determine whether or not you allow adequate time for play. Ask yourself:
- Do children have uninterrupted stretches of time to play and discover?
- Are 15-minute bursts of activity punctuated by long periods of too much "teaching" and not enough child-directed learning?
- Is it time to put play back into the hands of the experts-the children?
When play is processoriented, it helps children discover the joy, excitement, and satisfaction that comes from their own imaginations. When we value play, we value children.