Measuring Early Childhood Outside


Outdoor play allows children to explore, create and discover freely – and children gain many benefits when they play outdoors. As many children spend a lot of their time at early learning and child care (ELCCs) centres, ELCC centres can be important in providing children with regular opportunities to be and play outside.

We do not know very much about outdoor play in ELCC centres in Canada, such as how often and how long children play outside, what their play looks like, and what teachings and policies shape their play. Knowing what outdoor play at ELCC centres currently looks like will help us better understand what is working well and how to support and measure progress in the future. 

This study includes:

  • A literature review of existing survey research on ELCC centres’ outdoor play provision.
  • An environmental scan of governmental policies and supports for outdoor play training and provision.
  • A pan-Canadian survey to ELCC centres.
  • Interviews with key stakeholders to help interpret survey results.

To date, we have brought together an advisory committee with members from across Canada and many sectors to support this study. The literature review and environmental scan are complete and the MECO survey was launched to child care centres across Canada between July and October 2023. The results of this survey will be available in Spring 2024.

For questions about this project, email

Funding information

Generously supported by the Lawson Foundation, the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, and the Muttart Foundation