Moms First: Granger preschool has certified outdoor classroom


In a time when play-dates and sports seem to be more scheduled than ever before, a local preschool playground has become a haven for kids to explore, enjoy and be free.

The Early Learning Center Preschool in Granger has the only nationally certified outdoor classroom in St. Joseph county.

It's called a natural playground and it's unlike anything you would expect to see outside the classroom.

"We are a nationally based certified nature explore outdoor classroom we're the only one in the county St Joe County,” said Principal Christine Whitmire.

Whitmire says the natural playground engages children in a variety of ways.

“First and foremost that helps children to develop their motor skills they're big and small muscle skills they can run there are hills to run onto roll we go sledding in the winter time so there's a wide variety of things to do just in terms of the terrain,” said Whitmire.

The 125 children currently enrolled get to be hands on growing fruits, vegetables, and cultivating those for the classroom in one of their many gardens.

"Then our garden that is right here, is our butterfly garden. It's all native plants, it is designed to be a monarch waystation so it's nationally certified waystation for monarch butterflies to come and breed here, develop caterpillars and then we help them go onto their next spot in Mexico,” said Whitmire.

"Research will tell you the extended time outdoors allows children to focus especially, those who suffer from attention issues. It's calling for children it's restful for children and they are prepared to be in the classroom after that,” Whitmire said.

She says the natural playground also allows children to cultivate their faith through connections with nature. The outdoor area is a haven for kids to explore, enjoy, and be free.

The outdoor playground follows the 10 guiding principles for outdoor spaces for children by the Arbor Day Foundation. This includes native plantings, and open play areas for various types of play and learning experiences.

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