Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Magic of the Moment


The chance to connect with the natural world; first hand experiences of life and growth; endless opportunities for creativity and imagination; improved fitness and physical development – the countless benefits of outdoor play have a real positive impact on children's lives.

There has been much research on the subject of the benefits of outdoor play. Helen Bilton, an Educational Advisor and author of 'Playing Outside' describes the three main benefits as she sees them:

Firstly, outside is a natural environment for children. There is a freedom associated with the space which cannot be replicated inside. If children feel at home in a particular space it seems natural to teach them in that area; education should not be a chore but an enjoyable worthwhile occupation. Children playing and learning in an outdoor environment appear more active, absorbed, motivated and purposeful, and develop a more positive attitude to learning.

Secondly, the environment where we work and play affects our emotions. Children will often be less inhibited outside, and more willing to join in with activities, talk and come out of their shells. In overcrowded spaces children's behaviour can change, some can become more aggressive, while others become more solitary (Bates 1986).

Thirdly, outdoors is the perfect place to learn through movement, which is one of the four vehicles through which children can learn, the others being play, talk and sensory experiences. All of these happen more naturally outside, but with so much space and so many opportunities to move in different ways, the setting supports learning through movement particularly well."      ( )

We are privileged and happy every Friday to have the time to be outside with the children. We see each moment as magic; the children become free, exploring the surroundings happily, jumping, climbing, hugging, and settling onto special seats they discover. Children who are sometimes asked to stop and listen when we're in the classroom are pointing to trees that rustle and saying "LISTEN!" to us. Children who we sometimes ask to pay attention in the classroom setting point to holes in the ground, or floating seeds, or landscape features, and say "LOOK!" Children who are sometimes solitary in the classroom are making room for others to join in a jumping game or lining up to take turns to climb a tree. The natural world is a wonderful teacher! 

We started our time with a settling down walk to the farm next door, although those big pigs and the gobbling turkeys are quite exciting! Then there was a spontaneous roll down a small hill, and finally we were in the forest.  Enjoy!


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