“Through a chink too wide comes in no wonder” (Patrick Kavanagh).
Lately we have forgotten the importance of playing outdoors and instead focused on rote, academic learning. Nowadays once outdoor play is mentioned, words such as messy, dirty, laundry, illness and unhygienic come to mind which is crazy as we forget the benefits such as teaching children how to;
• Help themselves such as tying their coats, fastening their shoes and putting on hats.
• Share and take turns as individuals and also part of a group using new materials such as sticks, leaves, bugs and flowers.
• Express themselves with the freedom of space, in which they can shout, hide and run unhindered.
• Care for others, helping to fix trucks, take risks such as running faster and balancing for longer
• It helps their language and communication skills as they talk to other children while involved in movement such as climbing, using their imagination in games like ‘the bear hunt’.
Play is how children learn, especially in the early years and the outdoor area has a big impact on that, after all there are schools specially designed around outdoor activities. Parents and other adults need not be apprehensive about creating learning opportunities outside as they can be easier to create as being inside as there is no need for any equipment. The natural environment is all that is needed! By using natural materials that are already there and small amounts of imagination, hours of creative fun learning can be made. Games such as tag, ‘what time is it Mr. Wolf’, hide and go seek, and treasure hunts always prove to be favourites of children young and old. It is not about what space you have yet instead what you do with the space. Adding materials such as chalk or paint can turn any tarmac surface into an adventure.
Here in Crawford Childcare in Glanmire we are fortunate to have a large and secure outdoor play area which we are getting plenty to use a lot!