Head Start and Early Head Start programs have long recognized the importance of safe, appropriate outdoor play experiences and spaces for young children. The Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) address outdoor learning experiences and environments (45 CFR §1302.31(c)–(d)), licensing and square footage (45 CFR §1302.21(d)(2)), and safety practices (45 CFR §1302.47(b)(1)–(2) and (4)(E)). The HSPPS also address developmental and learning opportunities for infants and toddlers that could easily happen outside to take advantage of the unique qualities the outdoors offers (45 CFR §§1302.31(b)(1) and (e)(4) and 1302.35(c)(1)–(4) and (e)(2)).
This technical assistance paper explores the benefits of outdoor time for infants and toddlers in center-based, family child care, and home-based programs. It also provides Early Head Start (EHS) and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) program leaders suggestions for creating outdoor play spaces, safety considerations, and strategies and policies that support this important part of quality infant and toddler programming.
Topic: Learning Environments
National Centers:Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
Age Group:Infants and Toddlers
Last Updated: April 27, 2020