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Hanging OUT!

Outdoor education as a way to enhance the quality of early childhood education and care and to promote active citizenship

VšĮ Lauko darželis role in the project: partner
Beneficiary: Thomas More Mechelen-Antwerpen, Belgium
National Agency: EPOS the National Agency of Belgium
Programme: „Erasmus+“, KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practice, KA203 – Strategic Partnerships for higher education
Project No. 2019-1-BE02-KA203-060221
Project Title: „Hanging OUT! Outdoor education as a way to enhance the quality of early childhood education and care and to promote active citizenship“
Partner countries: Belgium, United Kingdom, Portugal, Denmark, Lithuania
Start of the project: 2019-09-01
End of the project: 2022-08-31
Project duration: 36 months

PROJECT SUMMARY

Europe is facing important challenges such as cultural complex diversity in classrooms, early school leaving and disadvantaged backgrounds for some children. Quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) can be a bridge to tackle these challenges. Not only children’s presence in ECEC is important but also their level and quality of active participation and engagement in the social and learning activities of early childhood provision.

HangingOUT! is an ambitious project that investigates the possibilities to use ‘every’ outdoor environment as a way to deal with the mentioned challenges. Eleven complementary strategic partners and different associated partners from five different countries (BE, LT, PT, UK, DK) want to give students, ECEC professionals and parents the confidence, tools and support to explore and create possibilities and experiments with different outdoor educational practices.

HangingOUT! project has 4 objectives:
(1) To further develop the professionalization of educators in ECEC within our transnational network by strengthening the confidence of teachers and responsible adults in going outdoors.
(2) To enhance the quality of ECEC through implementing and recognizing innovative pedagogues in outdoor education.
(3) To discover the opportunities of different outdoor environments (from city streets to mindscapes and from forests over factories to school grounds) while recognizing the wide variety in local, cultural and ecological contexts by experimenting with concrete educational practices.
(4) To install a culture of cooperation and co-creation between the different partners and stakeholders in early childhood education and care; deepening on the educational context of each country (care and education, formal and informal education, different stages in education,…).

To reach our goals we will establish 6 associated local networks between a HEI (higher education institutions) and 2 field partners (pre-schools, kindergartens, organisations, …). Each local network has its own focus depending on the interest, needs and expertise of the partnership: children’s participation, diversity, 0-3 year old and ICT. Via this way of working we bring together a lot of expertise, co-create with the different stakeholders and have an impact that is really sustainable.
The associated networks meet semi-annual F2F and online to share expertise, ways of seeing and knowing and experiment with each other’s outdoor practices. Connected to the F2F meetings are international weeks where we can share and discuss our outputs and expertise with students and other lecturers from the different strategic partners and more broadly with all interested members of the Comenius Association, a European network of teacher training institutes of which all HEI’s are longtime partners.

Intelectual outputs

The strength of working within the local networks in Belgium, Portugal, United Kingdom, Denmark and Lithuania is the diversity and quality of the intellectual outputs it will generate; 7 intellectual outputs in total. Ranging from an innovative GoPro-video database where we will gain insights in interactions between children and the material environment that can be used by teachers, parents but also policy makers, architects, etc. Over the development of inspirational flash cards showing children’s autonomy and that foster inclusion through outdoor activities. To an App that searches for (learning) opportunities in the outdoor environment (urban and rural), bridging the gap between the digital and natural environment. Or collecting outdoor inspiration for children aged 0-3 years old, overcoming the 0-3 yo & 3-6 yo divide in ECEC in many European countries.

HangingOUT! has been conceived and designed with long term sustainability in mind. The consortium has the strong intention to integrate the outdoor topic in HEI curricula. This will ensure that what is implemented during the Hangout! project lifetime will endure and strengthen the profile of future ECEC professionals who will critically adopt an outdoor approach as the new normal.

The dissemination and exploitation will be extended beyond the duration of the project. The transnational knowledge exchange between HEIs will be promoted and maintained beyond the completion of the project through the online platform including links to the local websites of the different partners. The project outputs will be further developed beyond the lifetime of the project and will be made available using Creative Commons licence values.

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