Okanagan College Researcher’s New Works Put Outdoor Play in Canadian Context
Two new textbooks are furthering an Okanagan College researcher’s efforts to inspire Canada’s early childhood educators to embrace the benefits of outdoor play for Canadian children.
Dr. Beverlie Dietze has studied children’s outdoor play theories and behaviours in countless settings in the Okanagan and across Canada. Her observations have fueled two new works that are part of a new collection designed to inspire Canadian early childhood educators to join the outdoor play movement.
Less than a year after the publication of their book Empowering Pedagogy For Early Childhood Education, Dietze and co-author Dianne Kashin have published an all-new text entitled Outdoor & Nature Play Early Childhood Education through Pearson Canada.
“The outdoor play movement is building momentum in Canada,” says Dietze, who is Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College and a recognized expert in outdoor play curriculum for children. “In order for that momentum to continue, we need to offer more educators new knowledge, examples and practices that make outdoor play principles accessible and place them in a Canadian context.”
For Dietze, that meant ensuring educators flipping through the book would immediately get a sense of place. The book includes examples and insights – as well as some of her own photography – from outdoor play workshops she has hosted at parks and nature areas around the Okanagan.
The local content and context is fitting as the book was released as part of Pearson’s Canadian Early Childhood Education Collection.
“The collection is written by Canadians for Canadians,” explains Dietze.
“This book was informed by movements around Indigenous education and environmental sustainability in Canada, along with a wide array of outdoor play concepts,” she says. “We’ve looked at how – and for how long – children play in natural play settings versus traditional play spaces, and shared findings we hope will help more and more educators provide children with meaningful outdoor play opportunities.”
It’s not the only work by Dietze and Kashin in the collection.
This spring the duo also released a second edition of their popular Playing & Learning In Early Childhood Education textbook (the first edition has been adopted by institutions and educators across Canada since it was published by Pearson in 2011).
The new edition reinforces how play prepares children to develop critical thinking, problem solving, their desire to be curious, and creative expression that facilitates a host of developmental and social benefits.
Since becoming Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College, Dietze has garnered more than $350,000 for outdoor play related research projects, including a $91,000 research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and neighbourhood developer New Monaco which seeks to develop a one-of-a-kind outdoor play space in the Peachland neighbourhood.
In 2016, Dietze led an Okanagan College project that received $195,000 in support from the Lawson Foundation. Under her leadership, the project brought together a number of other post-secondary institutions and experts to collaboratively develop a specialized training model for ECEs about children’s outdoor play that has been delivered in person or online to more than 1500 educators across Canada.