So how do you maintain children’s health and wellbeing during a global pandemic? Is outdoor nursery part of the answer? Well it’s certainly a big (wellyboot’d) step in the right direction – and not only for the reasons you might think.
Life in the time of C19 has been well termed) ‘a coronacoaster’, describing the unique blend of ups and downs experienced when living in the midst of a global pandemic. At Stramash, we have been incredibly pleased to be able to continue to provide a key worker service to children and families throughout lockdown, and now that things are returning to ‘something like’ normal, we are reflecting on all that we have learned.
Children need to play
We know that we are a bit of a broken record on this one but it’s a fundamental truth that forms the cornerstone of our approach. Children need to play and will always find a way to play, it is ‘The work of childhood’ (a phrase termed by Piaget). However, just as you might have found it challenging to work during the crisis and maintain the usual high levels of productivity, children restricted to only a home environment will not have had the same opportunities for play (and, therefore, learning and development) as they would have when they are also spending time in other dynamic and enriching environments (such as nursery).
Children also use play as a way to process big thoughts and emotions – critical at times of crisis such as these.
We need each other
We know that for most children home is their absolute safe space and the people in it their very favourite humans. We expected children returning to nursery to have some resistance, to struggle initially with the separation from their caregivers, despite entering our nurturing environments. This has happily not been the case, children are thrilled to be reunited with their peers and nursery ‘grown ups’. Due to the restrictions many have not had peer play opportunities during lockdown, they seem to be relishing in their friendships and the opportunities to nurture their social and emotional development – key life skills.
Friendships and time spent in peer play improves overall wellbeing and health.
We need nature
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone! Having our outside time restricted to just an hour a day for several weeks really made us all recognise the benefits of time spent in nature. Equally the fact that even in the midst of a global pandemic and the unprecedented act to ask us to all ‘stay at home to save lives’, the importance of time spent outside for mental and physical health and wellbeing was recognised in this allowance. There are innumerable studies and articles on the benefits of time spent in nature but needless to say we are glad to be back out, and we know the children are too.
The natural environment is a healthier place to be and it improves mood, health and wellbeing too!
The future is uncertain – but we’re not
The likelihood is that we will be living alongside this situation in some way for at least the immediate future. We have adapted our protocols and continue to follow government guidance to ensure that we can keep our environments accessible and as safe as possible under these new challenges. This is unlikely to be the last ‘novel virus’ or challenge we face collectively. But with all that said, our values remain the same and have never been stronger. Our goals and intentions have been bought into sharper focus; to provide high quality care and meaningful interactions, nurturing environments, stimulating learning opportunities and connection with the natural world for children.
It’s good to be back.
If you are local to one of our settings and considering outdoor nursery, maybe for the first time in the light of all the recent changes, you can get in touch via our homepage here using the contact form at the top.