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In Nursery we are really lucky to have a beautiful garden that we can use everyday! We set up lots of different activities for the children which cover all the different areas of learning. The children have access to sand, water & a mud kitchen outside along with our meadow where we grow vegetables and search for minibeasts!
How and what can my child learn outside?
Outdoors, children can choose to be very active, running, jumping, climbing, shouting, or they can enjoy watching others, reflecting, hiding, playing in a world of their own. Each individual can move and develop in their own way.
Some children have a more active style of learning than others, and find it difficult to concentrate on doing things inside. Offer them active outdoor opportunities which suit them and their play is more focused and meaningful.
Of course, there are many learning opportunities that are only possible outdoors because they relate to the weather, to nature, the soil and living things. Many wonderfully sensory learning experiences like splashing in puddles, making sloppy sand 'cement', and mixing mud pies with sticks are activities that children engage in naturally. Finding a worm or a fat slug under a stone, watching a spider or a snail are fascinating opportunities that transfix children for hours and lead to unique understanding about the natural world. What about windy days and the thrill of flying a paper kite, or snowy days with no limit to children's imagination for using the amazing stuff?
How can I support my child's development through outdoor play?
The most important factor is you! If you are enthusiastic about sharing your child's experiences, putting on that extra fleece to brave the elements, holding back your squeamish feelings towards their precious worm or slug, then your child will develop more confidence and feel free to develop their own interests. If you have confidence in a child and allow measured risk taking, then their self-esteem and skill will grow.
What equipment do I need?
It is not necessary to buy expensive equipment for outdoor play. Time and space are vital commodities that are free - they just need your dedication and commitment. A place to hide, be secret and indulge the imagination can easily be created with a clotheshorse or table and blanket.
Children's natural drive to dig and poke, to put things into containers, to collect things and make piles, can all be satisfied with the cheapest of resources - boxes, pots, containers, sticks, string, tape. Natural materials such as water, sand and mud offer valuable learning opportunities. A bowl or bucket of water with a variety of containers, including some with holes, will fulfil your child's desire to explore water for hours. Play can be a messy business. Providing old clothes, wellies and suitable shoes will save you from nagging unfairly over getting dirty.
What if I don't have a garden?
Making opportunities for trips to local parks, recreation grounds, woodland or the seaside offers your child valuable learning experiences not possible at home or in Nursery.
Science activities such as planting seeds don't even require a garden. A tub or bucket is perfect for growing flowers or even vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, tomatoes. Caring for your own plants, as your child will find, is a very responsible commitment.
The world is so full of possible discoveries waiting for you to share with your children. Never lose the urge that compels you to roll over that huge stone in anticipation of what it may reveal!
Parson Street Primary School,
Bedminster Road, Bedminster,
Bristol, BS3 5NR