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Outdoor Play in Norway and Jordan
The case for outdoor play in a learning environment

SOURCE: Interaction (Fall 2003), the journal of the Canadian Child Care Federation, contained an interesting article by Beverly Dietze and Barbara Crossley, “Two Cultures/Two Approaches: Outdoor Play in Jordan and Norway,” which includes the following observations:

“Norwegians consider the outdoors as an enriched learning environment for play. Many parents in both rural and urban centres choose to register their preschoolers in programs that are play-oriented and conducted entirely outdoors. Children develop an appreciation of the natural environment and learn about the outdoors at a young age. They learn to live with cold temperatures and the shorter daylight hours of winter. Parents and teachers alike believe that such programs increase the physical activity of children, the socialization skills, language development, creativity, and practical like skills.

“Jordanians value academic achievement and this is reflected in the country’s preschool environments. The preschool activities generally take place indoors; children’s programming either does not include on outdoor play component, or it is limited in time allocation and scope of experience. Outdoor play areas must be protected to shield the children from the bright sun, the heat, the torrential rain during the winter months—an option that is cost prohibitive to many of the school in Jordan…

“We have observed that while educators in both the Jordanian and Norwegian cultures recognize the importance of creative play on the child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, there are differences in even the choice of creative/outdoor play. We found that Norwegian children use their large muscle movement and socialization in their creative play, whereas Jordanian children move frequently engage in play that uses fine motor development and individual or small group play.”