Big changes coming to Clare Early Childhood Programs, naturally helping more kids

The newest trend in playgrounds for children uses the oldest things we can all remember. ‘Natural playgrounds’ are becoming popular nationwide to address a variety of issues cropping up in young children, and Mid Michigan Community Action is at the forefront with a new natural playground installed at the Harrison and Farwell preschool sites.

In addition to the natural playground, state funding has come through for two additional preschool
classes in Clare County. Thirty-two more slots have become available. In addition, eligibility requirements are more flexible than they have been in the past, allowing more children to qualify.

Research shows that the enhanced outdoor curriculum that comes with a natural playground combats natural deficit disorder, which was coined by Dr. Richard Louv and describes youngsters who are rarely outdoors and who suffer from attention and behavioral disorders as an at least partial result of their indoor lifestyles.

“By taking the learning environment outside, teachers can expand upon the natural sense of wonder children have learning through active play and outdoor exploration,” said Sue Harvey, early childhood services director. “Nature can help support healthy physical, social-emotional, cognitive and academic development.”

“Getting back to our roots, pun intended, and also giving our children the tools and skills to thrive in the future are equally important to us,” said Jill Sutton, executive director. “We’ll be using the outdoors as a natural extension of the learning environment. They will be well prepared for the next steps in their lives at the end of the school year.”

Eventually all classrooms will have outdoor areas for extended learning and curriculum enhancement.

Mid Michigan Community Action is NOW ENROLLING for its preschool program. Please call 989-386-3805 or visit www.mmcaa.org to enroll.

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