Why I love outdoor play…..
Outdoor play fascinates me! I love that children can explore the outdoors in a completely different way from indoors. Outside space is constantly changing and engaging children. I feel there is more scope for learning in woods or gardens than in a classroom.
Outdoor play allows children to develop language skills by delivering a classroom which opens up the world of nature in a real experience. Children can ask deeper questions, have in-depth discussions and enjoy the weather elements. All of which enhances language skills and an appreciation of the great outdoors. Children’s gross and fine motor skills improve in an outdoor setting, with the possibility of risky play. By allowing children to assess their own risks we are able to demonstate trust and understanding that they are capable of doing this. Children who are allowed to assess risk will never push themselves further than they are capable. They understand how to build themselves up to jumping from the top step of a climbing frame or climbing the tallest tree. They do this by watching others, testing it for themselves and knowing that an adult is always near by.
Children’s imagination is greatly enhanced outside. They may find a house for fairies or a tree stump which turns into a porridge pot. Outside play gives children the chance to engage with open-ended resources which can become anything which the child requires in their play. A wooden spoon can become a wand, a microphone or even a pen. Woods and forests are excellent places for imagination to build and grow. I’m sure we can all remember a special place from our childhood which we were able to go back to and visit often. My special place was a a huge crater in the woods which we used as a mountain bike run! My siblings and I would have endless conversations about how this crater was made, was it a space ship landing or the leftover landscape from a bomb.
Nature is a huge part of outdoor play and learning. Children are able to see nature in a natural space. They are able to see how we can preserve it and improve it. They can discuss in depth different kinds of animals, plants and trees. This can be taught in a classroom but having the real experience of seeing the trees, feeling the leaves, smelling them and describing their differences makes it all the more memorable!
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! Being outside in all weathers, children are able to describe the elements, understand how it can alter the environment and predict what kind of weather might come next. Jumping in puddles can teach a child about depth, shadows and what happens to the puddle when the sun comes out. Again this can be taught from a textbook, but will a child remember it the same as if they were able to jump up and down in a puddle, I think not!
All of these aspects of outdoor play leads to learning in real experiences, where children are far more likely to remember but more importantly understand better than out of a textbook indoors, and lets not forget outdoor play is FUN!
This is why I love outdoor play!