Outdoor Learning Environment
Forest Friday Sessions!
We are proud to be able to provide our preschool children (aged 3 years and up) enriched outdoor learning opportunities on a Friday AM/PM, making use of natural woodland within our local vicinity.
Streetly Nursery – The children access an area within Sutton Park on a Friday afternoon.
These sessions allow the children real opportunity to develop their understanding of the world, hone their physical skills, develop their self confidence and awareness and consolidate newly acquired skills within a different setting. From ‘Bear Hunting’ to building bug hotels, to searching for shapes within the natural environment, this outdoor session is designed to cover a broad spectrum of the Early Years Foundation Stage whilst simultaneously encouraging independence, analysis of risk and consideration of steps we have to take to keep ourselves safe within a different type of learning environment. The children are fully supported on a higher staff: child ratio and full risk assessments are completed prior to the start of each term.
Outdoor Learning Ethos
“When children play outdoors, they are exercising their growing intellectual and emotional muscles, as well as their physical ones. They are developing the power to think, to feel, to do, to see and understand, to represent and express. They are imagining, puzzling, wondering, exploring, befriending and sharing”.
“Can I: Play Out” Outdoor Play in the Early Years – Bradford LEA 1995
At Stepping Stones Nursery we believe that:
- Outdoor play is central to young children’s learning
- Indoors and outdoors are viewed as one combined and integrated environment
- Outdoors is both a teaching and learning environment, where adults interact with children to extend their knowledge, skills and concepts.
- The outdoor classroom offers children the opportunity to use effective styles of learning; providing opportunity for playing, movement and sensory experience.
- Children are given a wide range of open-ended equipment and environments.
- Children are able to control, change and modify their environment
- Children are dressed and prepared appropriately for all kinds of weather.
- Outdoor design and layout is given careful consideration.
These are the key principles that underpin effective outdoor play.
As part of our approach to learning and to ensure we are constantly providing an enabling environment for the children, we provide a carefully planned outdoor environment. Crucially we provide opportunities for ’risky freedom’, where the children are supported to take reasonable and developmentally appropriate risk whilst they play. This helps them to learn how to assess and manage risk and challenge themselves. By allowing ‘risky freedom’ this helps children to find out about themselves and their capabilities. It also helps develop self-confidence, independence and lays the foundations for a healthier life.
The health benefits of outdoor play are undeniable. NHS England guidelines now state that ‘Children who can walk on their own should be physically active every day for at least 180 minutes (three hours).’ This is a substantial amount of time and as an Early Years setting it is our responsibility to ensure that children are being provided with this opportunity.
The opportunity to play outside, throughout the year, in all different kinds of weather is as important as playing inside. There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong type of clothing. Nearly everything that is provided inside can be provided outside and some of the best learning can only happen outside. For many children, the learning that happens outdoors is the most important.
Our aim is to promote enthusiasm, enjoyment and confidence while developing each child’s physical skills and abilities. This can be seen within our practice supporting children to engage in a variety of different activities which have been initiated by the children or observations that practitioners have taken. For example building pirate ships with the plastic crates, rolling tyres down the hill to see which one is the fastest, or building an obstacle course using blocks, balancing beams and cardboards boxes to name a few. This is not only fantastic fun for the children but also means that all 7 areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) are covered and the children are exposed to an enriched & quality outdoor learning environment.