Welly Day’s and the benefits of being outdoors.
The chance to connect with the natural world; to have first-hand experiences of life and growth; endless opportunities for creativity and imagination; improved fitness and physical development- the countless benefits of outdoor play have a real impact on our children’s lives.
Stibbard All Saints Nursery provides children with the opportunity to spend days outside in the natural environment, enabling children to experience the season’s first hand and to develop an innate curiosity and love for learning.
The benefits of outdoor play
Outside is a natural environment for the children, the freedom and space to play cannot be replicated inside. We know that if our children feel at home in a particular space it is natural to support their learning in that area. In an outdoor environment children playing and learning can appear more active, absorbed in its awe and wonder, motivated and develop a more positive attitude to learning.
The environment where we work or play can affect our mood and emotions. When children play outside they can feel less inhibited and more willing to join in activities. Children who are quieter inside will talk and come out of their shells.
Outdoors is the perfect place for children to learn through movement, this along with play, talk and sensory, is one of the four ways children learn. All of these can happen so naturally outside with so much more space and opportunities.
There are clear health benefits with children being outside. Children at Stibbard All saints are encouraged to run, climb, dig and swing every day. We are aware children need daily and vigorous exercise where they are out of breath and their lungs and hearts are working hard. NHS guidelines say that children under 5 need at least three hours exercise a day using a mixture of bone strengthening, muscle building and cardiovascular. Regular exercise can also improve children emotional health, allowing for relaxation and calmness and a heightened sense of wellbeing (Armstrong 1996).
Early year’s curriculum
The Early Years Foundation Stage is the curriculum used by all schools and nurseries for children 0-5 years old.
The three prime areas:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
The four specific areas are
- Mathematical Development
- Understanding the world
- Expressive art and Design
Examples of how and what they are in each area
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Children learn to negotiate plans with the friends they have made, maybe cook a meal in the mud kitchen, work together to find and identify minibeasts, learn to take turns and co-operate through group games, and enjoy being in the company of others as they play and relax.
Communication and language
Children are motivated to talk through stimulating experiences that give our children lots to talk about. Our environments are relaxed and supportive, where our children can feel safe and valued. We promote high quality talking throughout our day that supports the development of our children’s speaking and listening skills.
Just like inside the nursery, we sing songs, and listen to and tell stories every day, but outdoors we have the added bonus of nature and the fresh air. We ensure there are plenty of opportunities for the development of early literacy skills such as letter and word recognition in the outdoors by making letters and words from natural objects on the forest floor or finding sticks to write in the mud or earth.
Hands-on use of real objects is the cornerstone of developing mathematical understanding and as with all learning, engagement is the key. So outdoors they are able to develop those early maths skills, whether it is through counting conkers, pacing out distances, or finding shapes we recognise in the world around us.
Understanding the world
We are outdoors in nature’s classroom and make the most of it, learning about the flora and fauna, life cycles, the weather, the seasons, growth, habitats, insulation, light and dark, sound, forces….the list is never ending..
Expressive Art and Design. (Exploring materials and media & Being imaginative)
As well as the many activities which are provided indoors to encourage the children to explore and use a wide variety of media and materials, the outdoor area is set up to encourage children to experiment with the visual and performing arts and design technology.
Characteristics of effective learning
This part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum describes the children’s attitudes to learning and ‘how’ they learn rather than ‘what’ they learn. If children have positive experiences to learning in their early years, they will be able to apply these learning styles throughout their lives.
Playing and exploring
- Finding out and Exploring: children are able to use all their senses to understand the natural world around them and the changes it offers.
- Being willing to have a go: children are given opportunities to risk take and risk manage with caring supportive adults.
- Playing with what they know: children have endless opportunities for testing out their ideas.
- Being involved and concentrating: children will naturally engage in self-chosen activities, with time for them to extend their own play and learning in their direction they choose, with the benefits of staying with a task or activity for an extended period of time.
- Enjoying what they set out to achieve: There is no right or wrong way to play with the open-ended resources the world is their oyster,
- Keeping on trying: being outdoors promotes a can do attitude and builds a child’s resilience e.g. falling over, getting muddy
Creating and critical thinking
- Having their own ideas: children will develop their own games and play and be involved in planning their own activities
- Making links: noticing patterns in the natural world from seasons to leaf shapes. They use their knowledge they have gained from being outside to make predictions and test their ideas.
- Choosing ways to do things: Through real life experience they will learn to problem solve e.g. how will we move this heavy log, or working out how many tree cookies they can stack before they fall.
The benefits of outdoor play are endless. If you would like to know more, please take a look at the following books and web articles.
Books to read
- Playing Outside (Helen Bilton)
- Developing Muscles and Minds (Marjorie Ouvry)
- The Great Outdoors — Developing Children’s Learning (Margaret Edgington)
- Last Child in the Woods (Richard Louv)
- Balanced and Barefoot ( Angela Hanscom)
Online articles and information
- Connecting with Nature — An RSPB study finds that just one in five children are connected to nature.
- Project Wild Thing
- Forest School Association – www.forestschoolassociation.org
- Forest School Association Norfolk – fsanorfolk.wixsite.com