Last year the idea of outdoor learning was the topic on everyone’s lips, and this year it looks like there will be no slowing of momentum. From practioners to parents, more and more people are starting to appreciate the benefits outdoor learning can bring to childhood development. This said, it could also benefit your nursery in a number of ways:
Boost in popularity
As child obesity rates soar, many parents are actively seeking ways to encourage their children to exercise, but in ways which do not cause too much disruption to their daily lives and routines. Outdoor learning in a nursery setting can be a perfect solution that allows children to get active, without making any drastic changes to the parent’s day to day life.
It’s also reported that many parents long for their children to enjoy the same freedoms they did during childhood, but in a more controlled setting to minimise risks such as ‘stranger danger.’ Providing a space for children to run, balance and play freely can be a step in achieving this goal.
Nurseries that can cater to the growing trend of outdoor learning – and show parents/carers how it benefits their children may experience a boost in popularity. Many nurseries and early year settings that provide outdoor learning opportunities have also enjoyed coverage in the local press as the media champions the move away from screen time and sedentary lifestyles among children.
Make The Most Of Your Space.
One of the main misconceptions about outdoor learning is that you have to have to have access to wide swathes of open fields and forests. However almost any outdoor space can be used as long as it is safely enclosed to stop children wandering too far.
Ground that presents different levels can help children to learn balance, jump and climb. Exposure to sunshine, wind and rain can also offer children a wealth of learning opportunities to learn about their environment and the change in the seasons. Plants can also add extra stimulus and open up conversations about the natural world, insects and wild animals which can help children to develop empathy.
If safety or practicality is a concern, safety surfacing such as wet pour could help. It is non-slip and impact absorbent, helping to reduce any possible injuries as children practice their balancing and jumping skills. It is also porous so puddles and standing water is kept to a minimum.
In recent years OFSTED has started to reward childcare settings that allow children to part-take in ‘risky play’ with the belief that it can help build resilience in children. For children to properly engage in risky play, they must be given space and freedom that indoor settings struggle to provide.
Ofsted 2008 report into outdoor learning Learning Outside The Classroom – How Far Should You Go? Found that even when done badly outdoor learning can provide major learning gains for the children taking part. Though it is important to note that Ofsted believe that the more planned and integrated outdoor learning is the more effective it is.
So there you have it, outdoor learning can benefit not only the children but also the nurseries that care for them!
If you are thinking about redeveloping your outdoor space to allow for more outdoor learning opportunities our team is on hand to answer any questions you may have about safety surfacing.