Post-secondary partners seek to unite early childhood education instructors across Canada

By Public Affairs | April 28, 2021

Children Outdoor Play

Virtual conference will focus on outdoor pedagogy in college ECE programs

How does playing in the mud support children’s cognitive and social development? Why is outdoor play such a powerful conduit for learning? How can we advance curriculum to empower current and future early childhood educators (ECEs) to tap into it?

These and other questions will be explored during a unique virtual conference next month that will bring together ECE instructors and outdoor play experts from across the country.

On May 18, Okanagan College, in collaboration with Bow Valley College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and New Brunswick Community College, and colleagues at the YMCA and the University of Fraser Valley will host a conference called Conversations about Outdoor Pedagogy in College ECE Programs.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to join workshops by leading ECE and outdoor play experts from across Canada. They will also have a chance to hear from guest speaker Dr. Peter Gray – an internationally renowned researcher in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.

Gray is a research professor at Boston College and author of Free to Learn (Basic Books) and Psychology (Worth Publishers, a college textbook now in its 8th edition). He holds a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Rockefeller University, and completed his undergraduate study at Columbia University. His current research and writing focus primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. He is also a founding member of the non-profit Alliance for Self-Directed Education and a founding board member of the non-profit Let Grow.

The conference is made possible thanks to a major investment by the Lawson Foundation announced earlier this year that will support researchers from the four institutions in their innovative approach to advancing outdoor early learning and teaching nationally.

The conference is just one initiative in a three-year project which aims to demonstrate a model of outdoor pedagogy practices, teaching, learning and mentoring that will create a shift in curriculum in post-secondary ECE programs and in community early learning and child care programs.

“We are so excited to bring together college ECE instructors all across the country to participate in this first-of-its-kind conference aimed at collaboratively advancing outdoor pedagogy in College ECE programs,” says Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College and project lead on the Lawson Foundation supported research project. “We are eagerly looking forward to the ideas, discussions, resources and action this conference will generate.”

You can register for the conference online at

Tags: Early Childhood Education, Learning and Applied Research, Lawson Foundation



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