The Importance of Learning Outdoors – Whatever the Weather!

The Importance of Learning Outdoors – Whatever the Weather!

In recent years there has been a cultural shift in our society that has reduced the access and use of outdoors for many young children.

A number of factors are blamed, including an increased fear amongst adults in relation to children’s safety, anxieties about the threat of abduction, and technological advances leading to an overwhelming prominence of more sedentary indoor activities, such as television and computer games, in the last two years COVID 19 has further restricted children’s access to, and experience of the wider outdoors. However, the developmental needs of young children have remained constant and the outdoor environment continues to be essential to their health, development and well-being.

Learning outside the classroom supports the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being. It gives them contact with the natural world and offers them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons. Outdoor play also supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.

And, of course, the outdoor environment offers more space than indoors and therefore is particularly important to those children who learn best through active movement. For many children, playing outdoors at their early years setting may be the only opportunity they have to play safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop the skills to manage new situations.

Toddlers (aged 1 to 2)

  • Toddlers should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (3 hours). The more the better. This should be spread throughout the day, including playing outdoors.
  • The 180 minutes can include light activity such as standing up, moving around, rolling and playing, as well as more energetic activity like skipping, hopping, running and jumping.
  • Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.

Pre-schoolers (aged 3 to 4)

  • Pre-schoolers should spend at least 180 minutes (3 hours) a day doing a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day, including active and outdoor play. The more the better.
  • The 180 minutes should include at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.
  • Children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except when they’re asleep. Watching TV, travelling by car, bus or train, or being strapped into a buggy for long periods are not good for a child’s health and development

Outdoor learning at the Nursery

We lead outdoor groups such as gardening, minibeast hunting and den building. One of our teachers, Sarah Drake, is forest school trained and uses her knowledge and expertise to enhance outdoor learning facilitating exciting learning activities such as toasting marshmallows over a firepit.

Our kiddy bus allows us to transport children out and about into the parkland to feed the ducks and explore seasonal changes.

What should my child wear at Nursery?

All EYFS settings, including Nursery schools are places where children are both likely, and allowed, to get messy. In the EYFS there are so many learning and development opportunities that are messy!

We know that there are some parents out there who can’t bare messy play at home. Parents who avoid paints and chalks and prefer sand to remain on the beach. Parents who don’t go on muddy adventures and would rather not sing in the rain whilst jumping in puddles. parents who can’t bare mess and avoid it at all costs.

That’s OK.

With that in mind though, remember our Nursery is the ideal place to let your child do all of those things. The only thing you have to do is wash what your child is wearing (and empty the sand from their shoes). So please – leave the expensive clothes and pale white coat for home! Send your child in inexpensive and easy to wash clothes that are warm enough for the weather. Send them with hats and gloves in the winter, sun hats in the summer and whatever the season –  plenty of spare named clothes and we will make sure your child has as much fun learning at Nursery as the staff do!