This study aimed to reveal variations in Japanese early childhood education and care (ECEC) centers’practices and thoughts regarding outdoor play and relationship between the two. A questionnaire wasdistributed and the answers from 1,659 centers were analyzed. First, it was revealed that the frequencyand perceived importance of practice in outdoor environments are different between centers. Someoutdoor practices are thought to be important in many centers while others are not. Second, aconfirmatory factor analysis showed that centers varied in their practices and the perceived importanceof direct or indirect guidance for children in outdoor play although indirect guidance was rated highlyin many centers. This means that the varied thinking about outdoor play in Japanese centers can be seenin how they teach physical activities or make use of playgrounds. Third, it was revealed that thoughtsabout fostering children’s build strength and acquire athletic skills vary between centers and centersfocusing on such things had high scores in direct guidance while centers focusing on children’s wonderor interests had low ones. In conclusion, we can consider ECEC’s outdoor play practices and perceptiontogether and what centers value is important in discussing the quality of outdoor environments forchildren’s development.
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