The outdoor environment at the back of the ELC has had some love and care invested in its renewal. The boys have relished the possibilities of the space. Some may say they have explored sand, water, sticks, in the new space. I say that they have embraced the roles of scientists as they explore the physical and chemical properties of sand and water, the processes of cause and effect and the forces of gravity. That they have taken on the role of authors, as they construct social and dramatic play scripts. Mathematicians as they explore concepts of volume, capacity, and number.
As educators we know the value of natural spaces in fostering the wellbeing and cognitive development of children and it is becoming increasingly supported by research. Claire Warden provides a summary of some of the research findings, which demonstrate the impact of nature play on children’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development (Warden 2015). Richard Louv’s diagnosis of the nature deficit disorder has brought the importance of nature play into the media (Louv 2008). I recently read an article about how places create actual rooms of experience in your mind that stretch beyond walls or function.
In my mind, when I enter outdoor spaces, I enter the classroom:
“All aspects of the curriculum can be taught outside, stimulating the imagination and bringing subjects to life in a real context – indeed, in such a way as to stimulate all their senses and build firm foundations for further learning” (Massey)
As a mum I understand the frustration of a sandpit being emptied onto your hallway runner when shoes are removed for the day! But as an educator, I am celebrating these grains of sand as future pearls of wisdom.
Head of Early Years
Louv, Richard, 2008, Last Child in the Woods, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Massey, Benefits of a forest school experience for very young children from www.pre-online.co.uk
Warden, C 2015 Learning with Nature Embedding Outdoor Practice, London, UK, SAGE Publications