Outdoor Play and Field Trip Policy
Regular outdoor play is a very important part of a child’s growth, exploration and learning about their environment. All age groups play outdoors daily, if conditions permit, for children’s health and safety.
Hoya Kids’ outdoor play policy, as communicated in the HKLC Parent Handbook (effective February, 2005) is as follows: In cold weather, children will remain inside when the wind chill (air temperature with the wind speed factored in) is 20° F or below. When the wind chill is 35° F or above, children will go outside as long as other conditions permit.
When the wind chill is 21-34° F the decision to go outside will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Center staff. The official wind chill will be determined by the reading at Reagan National Airport as reported by the National Weather Service. The length of time outside will be limited and gauged by the comfort of the children and the children’s ability to communicate this. All children should come with appropriate outerwear (coats, hats, mitten/gloves) to protect them in these conditions. Snow pants and boots should be supplied by the parent on days where there is snow on the ground.
Please refer to the section entitled Code Red and Orange Air Quality for information on restrictions for summertime weather.
Playing outdoors provides many opportunities for toddlers to develop and practice gross motor skills. Toddlers need a safe (hazard-free) outdoor play area which will provide them challenges and will allow them to master skills without getting hurt. They need multiples of popular toys and materials so they do not have to wait long to use their favorite item. Toddlers love to move and wheeled toys allow them to use their gross motor skills to propel themselves. Participating in physical activities allows toddlers to develop new motor skills and to feel control over their environment.
Buttercups and Koalas
The outdoor environment provides a new setting for children to explore and a place for them to release pent-up energy. The children can enjoy activities that take place indoors in different ways when conducted outdoors. For instance, we have a sandbox which is constantly available outside as opposed to the smaller indoor sensory table which may or may not be filled with sand. Likewise, we have a set of “hollow blocks” that are many times larger than the unit blocks available for children to play with indoors. They also have the opportunity to ride bikes, climb on the large and small climbers, and play the gross motor games of their choice. In fact, given the time and space available to Buttercups and Koalas, they are able to use their creativity to devise and refine their own elaborate games. Fresh air and gross motor activities are very important in a child’s development and will occur twice a day for at least two hours per day, weather permitting.
The outdoor play space is furnished with basic open-ended materials and the teachers will provide additional toys and equipment to stimulate and challenge the children. Many indoor activities can be adapted for use outdoors. When the weather does not permit the use of the outdoor playground, children will release their extra energy and strengthen their gross motor skills in the classroom or in an alternate space on campus (if available), and the teachers will appropriately adapt the environment. The children will have access to some of the same activities; just not the fresh air, sunshine and nature.
The following is a list of items we may use outdoors or inside in the classroom. Teachers will select the items that are age-appropriate for their group.
- Small sensory table for sand or water play
- Plastic containers, cups, bowls, pitchers, for sand and water play
- Blankets/towels to lie on or crawl on
- Balls (all sizes)
- Large, wooden hollow blocks
- Wagons and riding toys
- Small and large climbers
- Tricycles and wagons
- Garden tools
- Scarves and streamers
- Art activities available at the small art table or on the easels attached to the fence
Of course, safety is very important when taking children outside of the center. Precautions must be taken and procedures established and followed. Routine procedures include:
- Teachers will count the number of children before going outside, counting again when they arrive on the playground. The same is true prior to returning to the center; children must be counted before leaving the playground and after returning to the classroom. At either the departure point or the arrival point, (or both if it is a long walking trip) the attendance roster must be checked and children must be accounted for one-by-one, as opposed to just counting. (The reason for this is ensuring that you have the same children that are actually checked in on the roster.
- Before leaving the playground, a teacher will canvas the playground, being sure to check behind equipment and in areas where children may hide.
- Teachers will have with them cell phones to alert the Center should an emergency occur.
- Teachers will position themselves near climbing equipment when in use and closely monitor children near any areas or where falls or injuries may occur
- The playground is fenced and the gate locked during the hours when children are not outside.
- The same ratios between children and teachers will be maintained at all times when outside. When staffing permits, an additional teacher may accompany the children outside. During indoor-outdoor transitions, any available classroom staff members (that may otherwise be planning, setting up centers, etc.) will assist in this transition process, above and beyond the normal staff-child ratio.
- Each classroom will have a playground time scheduled and the Center Director and/or Office Manager will monitor the classes going and coming from the playground.
- Koalas will remain indoors until their playground time at 10 am.
- Busy Bees will ride on the sidewalks in the buggies, where children are strapped into the seats. There may not be more than 2 walking children for each adult who is not pushing the buggy. The teachers will remain with the buggy at all times.
- When a new child first begins in the Center, their group excursions shall be limited to the enclosed playground for at least 2 weeks so that Teachers may have an opportunity to learn more about the child and their possible tendencies to run or wander. This knowledge of each child’s tendencies, as well as their gross motor proficiency, will be used in planning for future campus outings. Any exceptions to this rule will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Director or Assistant Director.
- Busy Bees must abide by the “Toddler Campus Walk Areas” policy and corresponding campus map (Appendix O), which outlines different levels of allowable access to different areas of campus.
- When exiting and entering the building, or traveling anywhere outside the confines of the Center or playground, Buttercups and Koalas will be assigned a partner and will hold hands with their partner. Teachers will position themselves in the front and back of the group of children. In the scenario of one child (coming from or going to the bathroom), the child must be holding a teacher’s hand.
On-Campus and Immediate Vicinity
For on-campus field trips and walks around the center parents fill out and sign an on campus permission form. These forms are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Teachers write their destination and approximate time of return on the clipboard which is kept on the desk of the Office Manager. The minimum staff to child ratio is the same as it is in the classroom, but extra staff will be utilized when available.
The Immediate Vicinity is defined as anywhere on Georgetown University’s main campus plus the area enclosed by:
- the south sidewalk of Reservoir Road from GU Entrance #1 at the west to 35th Street at the east,
- 35th Street NW from Reservoir Road at the north to Q Street at the south,
- Q Street NW from 35th Street at the west to 33rd Street at the east,
- 33rd Street NW from Q Street at the north to Prospect Street at the south, and
- Prospect Street NW from 33rd Street at the east to the main campus at the west.
The above-defined area encompasses 13 square blocks of one of the loveliest neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Classrooms interested in observing and/or learning about community members, urban landscapes or wildlife, community helpers, and other community resources should contact the Assistant Director for assistance in coordinating visits to appropriate University departments, neighborhood destinations or other venues. A map of this area is available in Appendix P.
Georgetown Public Library or General Georgetown Neighborhood
When classes walk to the Georgetown Public Library or anywhere outside of our predetermined neighborhood boundaries, the ratio for the Koala class will be 1:5 and for the Buttercups class it will be 1:4. Dates and times for these trips will be posted in the respective classrooms with a sign up sheet for parent chaperones. With a full group, 2 extra adults will be need for each class. In the event that the ratio cannot be met, the trip will need to be cancelled. More information about the neighborhood boundaries is available from the Director.
If taking any children away from the Center, staff must carry their Go Bag and mobile phone. For further information, see the section entitled Outdoor Play and Field Trip Policy in this handbook.