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SDSU Children’s Center encourages outdoor activity with a new classroom

Courtesy of Michelle Zamora at the SDSU Children's Center.

Courtesy of Michelle Zamora at the SDSU Children's Center.

by Natalia Xibille, Staff Writer

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The San Diego State University Children’s Center has a new addition to its facility: an outdoor classroom.

In August 2015, the space known as “Memory Park,” which has been at the center since it opened in 2003, was converted into an outdoor classroom. 

“I think children nowadays don’t get enough opportunities to play outside and so we really do encourage that to take place here,” said Michelle Zamora, director of the SDSU Children’s Center.

Amid plants, play areas and colorful streamers, the new classroom combines activities normally done inside indoor classrooms with activities children often participate in outdoors.

This includes an art area, block area, bikes, a sandbox and even a mud kitchen complete with wooden tables and plenty of mud. 

The center follows an emergent and play-based curriculum that revolves around the interests of the children and emphasizes the importance of playing while learning.

This philosophy prompted the creation of the center’s outdoor classroom.

“Long periods of uninterrupted outdoor play is important for children’s development,” Zamora said. “The classroom was created because outside shouldn’t just be considered a place to run but more so a place to learn.”

The children, including public administration graduate student Joyce Liou’s son, love this method of learning.   

“My son is really fascinated by the bugs outside and comes homes talking about his search for roly polies and lady bugs,” she said.    

Apart from providing a safe learning environment for the children, the main reason why Associated Students started the daycare program over 30 years ago was to accommodate SDSU parent students’ need for a secure and convenient place to let their children play and learn while they attend classes.

“As a student with financial needs, I qualify for funding that covers my child’s preschool expenses,” Liou said. “This gives me the opportunity to fully focus on my school work on so many levels.”

Depending on their income, SDSU students can apply for subsidized fees and have the option of participating in the academic year program, which excludes breaks and is based on daily fees.

Aside from daycare services the center also serves as a lab school for the students of the department of child and family development, which has more than 157 students in the program per year. 

The SDSU Children’s Center is located along East Campus Drive next to Parking Structure 6 and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.    

Tours of the center are available at 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday of every month and at 5 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “SDSU Children’s Center encourages outdoor activity with a new classroom”

  1. Carolyn Sanders on February 25th, 2016 11:34 am

    As an Outdoor Classroom consultant here in San Diego, I would love to see this sight certified as an OCP Demonstration site!

  2. Carol Rossi on February 25th, 2016 5:35 pm

    As an Outdoor/Studio classroom teacher for the past 8 years and Outdoor Classroom Specialist, Level 1 since 2014, it is exciting to read about another outdoor classroom opening up. There are currently just a few in the San Diego, La Jolla & Solana Beach area.
    I would love to meet with you, Carolyn Sanders and outdoor teachers who are sharing the same goal-creating outdoor learning environments for young children in San Diego.
    Thank you for the wonderful article. I look forward to visiting your site soon.

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