“The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky” - the thoughts of nursery education pioneer Margaret McMillan over 100 years ago still resound.
There is now a growing body of research that shows that young children’s access to nature & outdoor play is associated with improved self-esteem, physical health, development of language skills and dispositions to learning.
Being outdoors is not just about physical development; it deserves equal weighting to indoor play in terms of providing planned experiences for young children. Outdoors offers a wonderfully rich, multi-sensory environment that is meaningful and stimulating for all young children, from birth to five.
Outdoors, children can have the freedom to explore different ways of ‘being’, feeling, behaving and interacting; they have space – physical, mental and emotional. They may feel less controlled by adults and are able to learn in the way that comes naturally to them – through exploration and play. The outdoor environment gives children the space & freedom from background noise to really tune in to themselves, to watch, listen and touch the living landscape that is always changing, to run, leap, climb, shout and be messy.
Research continually backs up the notion that young children (especially boys) learn best when engaged in physical activity.
Horsley Playgroup has free flow access from the indoor space to a secure, fenced outside space in beautiful rural surroundings, where a variety of resources, activities and open-ended materials are available to children to freely explore and develop their lines of play.
There is a park with play equipment, a hard surface area, a playing field for activities like running and footballs that are accessed at every session. There is a small good outdoor area where children experience ‘forest school’ type play, exploring a natural muddy spring, small paths, trees to climb and a wooden seated area for stories and story making.
In the wider community there is a multitude of walks in the local woods which we regularly experience with the children.
“I love the imaginative ideas, everything is child centred & comes from children’s own ideas. Great use of outdoors”
“The outstanding Ofsted is well deserved. What a lovely environment for the children, especially all the outdoor time that seems more than most other settings”.
(Comments from Horsley Playgroup Parent & Carer Questionnaire July 2015)