Providing outdoor experiences for infants and toddlers: Pedagogical possibilities and challenges from a Brazilian early childhood education centre case study
Chapter, Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Intense urbanization process in Brazil and Latin America has increasingly limited young children, since birth, to access outdoor spaces, especially green areas. Moreover, as conceptions of babies in domestic care support confinement practices, apprehending infants’ constitutive specificities as being intertwined with broader socio-cultural contexts requires further investigation. Notwithstanding the challenges, Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) institutions can be promising places to provide babies with daily contacts and appropriation of external areas amid an expanded collective experience. This chapter tackles the process of insertion and appropriation of outdoor spaces for infants and toddlers. We bring a case study from a Brazilian daycare centre with planned multiple outdoor environments, diversified spatial arrangements and natural elements. The empirical material, referring to the transition year of a group of under-twos, includes monthly recordings of everyday routine, interviews, field notes, institutional documents. We describe and analyze various outdoor spaces and socio-spatial practices of the daycare centre based on the cultural-historical perspective of the Network of Meanings. In the first semester, environments organized in semi-open areas connected to closed spaces were more frequently used. Whereas mainly in the second semester, given walking onset and greater motor resourcefulness, the going and appropriation of green areas unfolded as a gradual process not short of struggles. Substantial planning, projects and educational situations put forward by multiple social actors within a multidisciplinary approach modulated alternation of spaces and facilitated exchanges with peers, older children and adults – including family members.