2 and older
Parent/Child outdoor playgroup 10-week series
The latest in research shows that spending time in nature is not only intuitively a good idea, but essential for health brain development! Play-and-Learn Explorers with Early Childhood Matters is a parent-child participatory play group for two-to-three year-olds and their caregivers. Each week, we will be meeting at outdoor locations, taking advantage of open spaces and the natural world that surrounds us in this amazing city. Destinations include Glen Canyon Park, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Chrissy Field, and more!
Experienced early childhood educators will guide families through child-directed exploration of nature, using children's inherent curiosity to create excitement about learning. Each weekly session will also include circle time, gross motor games, and weekly readings/discussions on important toddler topics. This is a great opportunity to offer your child some consistent peer socialization, facilitated by an experienced teacher, before your child begins preschool.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What do you recommend my child wear on outings?
Please dress your child in clothing where he/she can freely explore and get dirty without worry. We all know that San Francisco weather can be unpredictable from hour to hour, and from neighborhood to neighborhood, so we ask parents to be prepared. Sturdy, close-toed shoes are highly advised, and layers are recommended. On rainy days, we highly recommend that your toddler wear a quality rain jacket, rain pants and rain boots. On sunny days, please pack a sun hat/sunblock for your child. You might also want to bring a change of socks and/or a full outfit change for the ride home-if we come across a puddle or some mud, odds are good that the children will explore it!
How strenuous are the hikes/nature walks? Should I plan on bringing a carrier or stroller?
Our weekly excursions are more about the journey rather than the destination. Play-and-Learn Explorers is a child-directed program, which means that we will follow the children’s lead during the hikes. We will stop to pick up pine cones, touch the bark on trees, study insects and listen for bird calls. Sometimes children will asked to be picked up or carried; however, we will encourage children to walk on their own as much as possible, to gain the full benefits of exploring at their own level. It is helpful for parents to talk to their children about this expectation prior to the outings. Please do not bring a stroller or a carrier/hiking backpack for your toddler.
What happens on rainy days?
Play-and-Learn Explorers groups will meet rain or shine. Rainy days bring a new level of sensory exploration to the outdoors! However, we typically will modify the weekly activity slightly on days where there is heavy rain and will meet at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park, where there is a library. We will have circle/story time in the library first and then go on a brief nature walk in the rain. We ask that children be dressed in weather-appropriate attire each week and encourage children to have rain coats, sturdy boots, and ideally rain pants as well on days when the forecast calls for rain. On sunnier days, we recommend sun hats, sunscreen, and layers.
In exceptional cases where inclement weather could pose a safety risk, a session would be rescheduled and parents would be notified by the instructor prior to the scheduled start time.
I have a toddler and an infant. Can I bring the infant along to our Explorers sessions?
Yes! Baby siblings are welcome to come along for Explorers sessions with older siblings. Please be advised that many locations are not very stroller accessible, so baby carriers (Ergo, Boba, etc.) for infant siblings are highly encouraged.