One challenge we face is that some of the questions children ask are linked to unobservable phenomena such as death, decay and disappearance. It is these aspects of connection to the natural world that are often the least well-defined, but they can be the ones that fascinate children.
Collaboration, creativity, imagination, inventiveness, problem-solving, coordination, physical strength – when children are given the space and time to freely play outdoors, truly the whole child is able to grow.
Regardless of SEN, many children find paying attention a key challenge. A number of proactive strategies can help, such as allowing the use of sensory-rich resources to provide feedback; providing quiet spaces to sit in calmly and take time out; minimising other distractions; and using attractive...
Did you ride bicycles around the block and play Hide-and-Seek outside with friends until you were called inside for dinner? These experiences helped us develop our senses and taught us to self-regulate our actions, preparing us ultimately for the more formal education of school.
The kinds of traditional play that children have done naturally for generations is still at the foundation of the work that we do, and need to do, with children. We have the wisdom of the sages through the ages, but we also have the wisdom of the children right here, right now.
Resonating with the work of early years pioneers such as Rousseau and Froebel – as well as Montessori – there has been a recent resurgence of interest in the UK in the potential of the outdoor environment for supporting children's learning.
It is important to make every moment matter in the early childhood classroom. Take a moment to look for how to transform everyday moments into extraordinary moments for young children…and watch the magic begin.
Not all children attend will-equipped nurseries with exciting and challenging outdoor areas. But all early years settings should be providing outside play opportunities regardless of their facilities.
We expect three-year-olds to behave like elementary-aged children, then wonder why we see “behaviors” in them. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days when children didn’t start school until age five, and then only in the mornings.
The more I think about ways to support children in growing into productive, happy, and kind individuals, the more I realize that time outdoors may be the missing ingredient. Spending unstructured time in nature opens a world of wonder and awe.