“Access to active play in nature and outdoors – with its risks – is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings – at home, at school, in childcare, the community and nature.“ www.haloresearch.ca/outdoorplay – Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play : Healthy Active Living & Obesity Research Group, Canada

We truly believe that outdoor nursery benefits every child. If you’ve found yourself here, intrigued by the idea of an early years of play and learning in nature for your child, read on to learn about all the benefits available for you.

“The opposite of play isn’t work; it’s depression”  Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith – “The Ambiguity of Play”, May 2001

Outdoor early learning & childcare has consistently evidenced a range of benefits for children, families and delivery agencies above and beyond that achieved within indoor settings.

Recent research from Sweden for example has shown that children at outdoor pre-school settings have twice the concentration capacity of those at normal settings and it is widely acknowledged amongst educational professionals the positive impact play and outdoor learning have on interpretation and learning in STEM subjects. Outdoor settings offer increased opportunities for physical exploration, curiosity, creativity and engagement within the natural environment beyond the playroom. 

The benefits of outdoor ELC include:

Child Resilience: Children who engage in active outdoor play in natural environments demonstrate resilience, self-regulation and develop skills for dealing with stress later in life. Children are consistently more curious about, and interested in, natural spaces than pre-fabricated play structures. In addition the outdoors and ‘green’ environments can act as a natural antidote to cortisol, the stress hormone increased from stressed or chaotic environments.

Child Socialisation: Outdoor play that occurs in minimally structured, free and accessible environments facilitates socialization with peers, the community and the environment, reduces feelings of isolation, builds inter-personal skills and facilitates development. Laying the foundations of those essential skills for life.

Child Health: When children are outside they move more, sit less and play longer – behaviours associated with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body composition, bone density, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness and aspects of mental, social and environmental health. This helps combat sedentary behaviours and sedentary diseases. Also playing with earth in natural environments has benefits in helping to develop immune systems that can weaken due to more sterile indoor environments.

Family Wellbeing: Parents consistently report children who eat better, sleep better, are happier and more engaged in family life. Additionally, through accessing the outdoors during their formal ELC, evidence highlights that children tend to access the outdoors more with their families outwith nursery too, increasing the role of outdoor play and informal learning providing direct benefit to family life.  This can be particularly valuable given the particular challenges that many families face if living in dense urban areas often with little, if any, private secured outdoor space. 

Environmental Care: In the words of David Attenborough. . . . “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” Children’s contact with nature allows embedded learning, to enable joy and wonder, to experience seasons and weather – to learn that dark clouds mean rain and ultimately to support the mind-set that the outdoors is a place to enjoy and cherish – as children are the future custodians of our planet.

Quality childcare & interactions –  Through the use of outdoor learning opportunities, we build on the learning experiences of children, offering new learning opportunities.  Additionally, we support staff development through training in ensuring that our teams have the opportunity to upskill and remain trail blazers in the care and development of young children outdoors.

Flexibility – Outdoor learning enables us to remove the constraints that can be experienced in standard indoor nurseries from limited space and capacity, increasing flexibility and availability for families.  Embracing outdoor opportunities provides increased opportunities for innovative operating models for the benefit of different types of family circumstances.

Affordability – You can use your funded childcare hours at all of our settings. While outdoor nursery (and outdoor experiences in general) have been in recent years a part of the private and paid for sector, Stramash are seeking to increase accessibility for all. We want every child and family to experience these benefits.

Still have questions?

Why not try our page: Your Questions Answered

Or maybe check out some of our: Recommended Reading

Or book your visit now to come and see it for yourself.

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