WE'VE NOT CLOSED OUR CLASSROOM BUT OPENED IT UP!
WHY IS OUTSIDE LEARNING SO IMPORTANT?
Being outdoors is a healthier environment physically and mentally. Children absorb more healthy vitamins such as vitamin D which supports their developing immune system and there are far less toxins and chemicals in the air outside. Being outside also encourages the production of melatonin which helps regulate sleep.
Outside, children become more aware of the real world around them. They see the effects that the weather has on the plant life and understand the need for food and water that birds and squirrels need. This help to develop skills, knowledge and understanding.
Being outdoors can enable deeper learning to take place as there is often much less noise. This can also help to reduce children’s stressors and anxieties and build resilience and self confidence.
The outside space is expansive which means children have space to run freely, move and express themselves without restriction. It is so important that children have the opportunity to move through these developmental stages. Gross motor skills such as riding a bike or climbing up a ladder are important stages in the development of writing skills.
Outdoor environments provide an exciting, rich stimulus for creative thinking and learning. This gives opportunities for challenge, enquiry, critical thinking and reflection!
More and more research is showing the positive impact on behaviour, health and well-being from being outside for large periods of time.
Fitness – Under 5’s should have a minimum of 3 hours physical activity a day!
SO, WHAT OUTSIDE LEARNING DO WE DO?
During the pandemic we are currently working in two bubbles and are not having mixed aged play for the time being.
BABIES & TODDLERS
We encourage lots of free flow play from indoors to the outside environment so your child can make choices about where they would like to play and follow their own interests. Different learning activities are set up each day in all spaces of our Nursery.
The children spend lots of time in the garden where they investigate and explore the natural world around them. They love finding baby snails and digging for wiggly worms. They also help to look after our vegetable plot and Giant African snails.
We have some quiet rooms too, for any babies and toddlers who need a more calmer environment or just some personal space to rest, play and have a story.
Both groups have access to challenging climbing equipment, balancing beams and a range of bikes which stretch different muscles. We also have a mud kitchen, sensory hut and a huge outdoor sand pit.
When the pandemic started we felt the safest place for our older children was to be outside in the fresh air as much as possible. We developed an outside classroom in our playground and brought the indoors, outside.
The 3 and 4 year olds have access to all the usual stimulating activities which promote learning and helps them to prepare for school, the only difference is - that it's in a much richer and calmer environment.
By being outside for most of their day, the children are able to experience first hand how the seasons are changing and talk about what they see. They independently choose resources from the garden to cook in their mud kitchen. They help themselves freely to the open ended resources and construct without any restrictions on space. We also build tents and dens where they are encouraged to work together and help each other.
Our outside classroom is now fully equipped with an outdoor sink, learning equipment and resources. It also has roller wall blinds to give protection against the wind and rain or to have rolled up in the summer. Of course if the weather is too cold or windy (or hot!) we still have our indoor Activity Room classroom we can use.
We have seen first hand how being outside for long periods of time each day has transformed children's learning and their progress made.
Children have been calmer and more focused in learning.
They have more opportunities to build social skills and work together as a team.
They are less frustrated when conflicts arise over toys
The have more 'secret' places to hide where they can really practice their communication skills with their friends.
Children have demonstrated an ability to follow their own needs. If their body needs to run, they can. When they are ready to settle and become engrossed in learning, they do.
The sickness rate has significantly dropped
WHAT IF IT RAINS
We put our hoods up! The children love putting on their welly's and splashing in the puddles. The wet weather transforms their play - they use different scoops, containers and sea life figures to investigate the rain water. We also have shelter in our outside under cover areas.
We provide all our parents with a recommended kit list which can be found here.
At the end of each day the children are encouraged to reflect on their day and talk about the things they enjoyed doing and experiences they have had.
We also incorporate mindfulness at the end of our yoga sessions. This gives children time to check in with their own body and think about how they are feeling.
BABIES & TODDLERS
We offer exciting learning experiences for the younger children to independently explore, play and investigate inside and outside. We follow their interests and key into all 7 areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
More information on the Development Matters EYFS tool can be found here.
Singing & music -
this is so important we do it every day!
Stories, rhymes & books
Activities & games
Water, sand & aything messy!
Writing, drawing & mark making
Music and dance
Sensory + heuristic
Climbing & balancing
Sports & yoga
Woodwork with real tools
Digital cameras & walkie talkies
We also have our own extensive curriculum for the 3 - 4 years olds to not only help prepare the children for school but to prepare them with life skills and knowledge.
The older children have more structured time together such as cooking, yoga, games to promote maths and literacy and circle time and story sessions.
Our termly topics are shared with our parents so you know what your child is learning about each week and it can also support you to extend your child's learning further at home too!
Examples of our topics include:
Earth & space
Caring for our world and the environment around us
Exploring culture around the world
Amazing animal journeys
Transport: land, sea & air
Growing and Plant life
Keeping fit & healthy
Wild animals and mini beasts
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Our outside trained professionals are currently on pause during the pandemic. Usually they would come in each week during term time to provide extra-curricular activities for our 3 & 4 year olds - see below
. At the moment our team have upped their skills and they are delivering yoga, balls skills, athletics and music sessions.
Zoo Lab Animals
Basketball & Athletics
Dance & Movement
STILL HAVE SOME MORE QUESTIONS?
Please feel free to get in touch or book in a visit