Outdoor provision

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By Nicki Allman

This fantastic article is bursting with hints and tips for how to make the most of your outdoor area without breaking the bank.

Outdoor provision

Both indoor and outdoor spaces have equal value in Early Years. Outdoor play is often an opportunity for children to explore and investigate nature and the seasons whilst using their senses, developing cognitive, physical and motor skills and promoting their health and well being. Often a child’s self esteem and confidence will grow as a result of the positive effects of an outstanding outdoor provision.

“All practitioners contribute to creating a highly stimulating environment with child-accessible resources that promote learning and challenge children both in- and outdoors.”

Ofsted 2014

Creating a stimulating and challenging learning environment, providing opportunities for children to be engaged in many varied tasks that build their confidence, self esteem and independence is essential if we are to create life-long learners. This identifies that some children will prefer ‘the great outdoors’ finding excitement in those learning opportunities. We must bear in mind that many children (especially those who are in full day-care and only return home after dark) may not have access to outdoor areas at home, which makes allowing them to independently explore outside areas in their Early Years setting even more important.

“For me, the outdoor area should be a magical, exciting place where children develop skills and gain experiences that they couldn’t get anywhere else. A place where they can use their imagination, explore, investigate, create and make mistakes in a safe setting, constantly developing new knowledge and applying their skills through the outstanding opportunities offered to them as well as creating their own learning opportunities.”
Nikki, EYFS lead, 2016

It is where children experience nature and the yearly season changes and develop their senses in a way that being indoors may not, providing time to conquer fears, developing care and respect and empathy, and physical coordination as they learn to manipulate the world around them. It develops all three of the characteristics of effective learning from Development Matters: playing and exploring, active learning, creativity and thinking critically.


What are the essentials of outdoor provision

Free-flow provision is essential and helps develop free choice and independent thought. Both indoor and outdoor spaces should be of equal quality and be mutually enhanced through quality planning, resources and activities and provision of open-ended activities promoting independence and equal learning opportunities.

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