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New Childcare Guidelines Include Nature

A few years ago I had a friend tell me that the day care her child went to had removed all the trees from the play area. When she asked the administrators why they had removed the trees, they explained to her that they were a hazard because the kids kept playing with the sticks. My friend inquired if anyone was injured from the sticks and the administrator said they didn’t think so, but it could happen.

The next week she returned and discovered that the kids had not gone outside all week. When she asked the childcare provider why not, they responded that it was too hot since all the shade was removed.

Thank goodness children in Texas can expect to see trees again! The new guidelines set forth for childcare centers by the Texas Workforce Commission offer incentives for centers to include “outdoor learning environments.”

With help from National Wildlife Federation, the new policies where adopted this spring. The guidelines acknowledge the importance of nature to a child’s positive physical and mental development. Through a ranking system, childcare centers can earn points for offering natural play areas, providing access to living things- like trees, and allow children to be physically active outdoors.

Research shows that children who spend time in nature are healthier, both mentally and physically, are better problem solvers, are more cooperative and feel more self - confident. Instead of being told to put the stick down, now a child can explore where the stick came from, what use does it have, or make it a central element in a new game.

The Texas Workforce Commission, with the help of the National Wildlife Federation has taken a great first step towards helping thousands of Texas children become healthier, happier and smarter.

Please find the information about the guidelines on page IV-9 under Category 4/ Nutrition and Indoor / Outdoor Environments.