The Benefits of Outdoor Play

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  • Topic: Wales, England, Nature
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  • Published : February 18, 2013
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The Benefits of Outdoor Play

Within this assignment I will explain the value of outdoor play experiences on children’s development then outline my settings current outdoor play provisions and examples of good practice within them. I will suggest areas for improvement in my settings outdoor play provision before moving onto outlining my setting’s current use of Welsh language within the outdoor area. I will then suggest areas for improvement in the use of Welsh language within the outdoor area including some activity ideas.

Outdoor play is a vital part of a child’s development and should be used within childcare settings and schools as much as possible. According to Nicole Therlin for www.ehow.com, in the article ‘The Importance of Outdoor Play in the Early Years’:

“Active outdoor play increases health and physical development by improving sensory development, reducing obesity and stimulating brain cells”
(Nicole Therlin, www.ehow.com, 25/06/12)
She goes onto explain that children use all of their senses whilst outdoors as they are naturally curious and will explore new experiences using their senses, developing them through stimulation. Another reason that outdoor play is beneficial for children’s development is explained by Melanie J. Martin for www.ehow.com in the article ‘Why is Outdoor Play Important for Children’. She states that:

“...Many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve – exploring, risk taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorbtion of vast amounts of basic knowledge – can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.”

(Melanie J. Martin, www.ehow.com, 25/06/12)
She goes onto explain that children don’t only gain physical skills through outdoor play but they develop skills in lots of other areas and gain knowledge of mathematics, science, ecology, gardening, construction, vocabulary and the seasons and the weather. Children gain social skills through the use of outdoor play and an awareness of basic life skills such as crossing roads and looking after their own safety. According to Johnson, Christie and Wardle on the website www.communityplaythings.co.uk:

“Projects such as gardening, observing the weather.... and having a picnic can be – and should be – social activities.”
(Johnson, Christie and Wardle, www.communityplaythings.co.uk, 25/06/12) These kinds of activities encourage the children to work together and build friendships and communication skills also. Areas such as playhouses, dens and other garden structures encourage children to use their imaginations whilst playing outdoors. A playhouse could be used as a number of different shops or areas which children can act upon whilst inside them. According to Rae Pica for www.brighthub.com in the article ‘Take it Outside’ several play theorists have also focussed on the importance of outdoor play to a child’s development. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi both believed that nature and the outdoors had a positive effect on children’s development. Friedrich Froebel founded the Kindergarten, which translated means ‘garden for children’ and believed in teaching children about the outdoor environment and links between the natural environment, food and health. Two more theorists who believed in the importance of outdoor play to a child’s development were Margaret McMillan and Susan Issacs. Both women set up nurseries where outdoor activities were widely available and encouraged. (www.brighthub.co.uk, 25/06/12)

Within my setting there are a wide variety of activities held outside within two separate areas. There is a bark area with a tree house which includes a small climbing wall, wide steps, a large slide and a play house at the top. It also has a storage box built into the base and open areas underneath for the children to move through. We use this area with the children who are over two and encourage the children to push themselves to master the skills needed to use the apparatus...
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