Outdoor learning has been growing in popularity in Scotland for a long time now. With childhood outdoor experiences required as part of our Curriculum for Excellence and three hours’ activity per day for under 5s recommended by health chiefs, outdoor nursery - even in Scotland - is no longer a radical concept! Aside from lowering the transmission of Covid-19, there are other clear benefits:
Being outside means there’s bucketloads of fresh air, space and freedom to run, spin, climb, jump and roll! Moving more, means better health, and contented, sleepy children at the end of the day!
Boosts the immune system
Children who are exposed to dirt, bacteria, animals, insects and lovely vitamin D from the sun have stronger immune systems. Who wouldn’t want that - especially right now!
Playing outside with open-ended resources instead of prescriptive, one-dimensional toys sparks creativity. A stick can be anything from a wand to a monster! Stones can be currency, bones or precious jewels. Working to create games - instead of being provided with them is so much more gratifying, too!
Resilience is vital for children
Resilience is a key attribute for everyone to develop. Children that can cope with the life experience of ‘surviving’ adverse weather are developing early resilience skills. Who can remember being soaked to the skin, or frozen to the bone? We can! These life lessons help children to make informed judgments on things like waterproofs, coats and gloves in the future.
Appreciating and respecting the natural world
Children who spend time out in all weathers learn to appreciate what each season has to offer and respect the changes in nature. Riversiders delight in seeing the leaves change colour or to watch tadpoles change into frogs. They enjoy the cycle of life and probably will appreciate it forever.
Children have to calculate distance, speed, time and more when they are outdoors. Mastering tree climbing, puddle jumping, downhill rolling and super-fast spinning all require judgment and experience - rather than being told how by adults.
In a world where joy is almost on tap, we feel it’s important to be enchanted by the simple things, like a gentle breeze in your hair, sunshine after rain, or catching raindrops on your tongue! Is there any better feeling than stripping off soaking wet clothes, getting on something soft and dry and having a steaming hot bowl of soup?
How do we know? Riverside Cottage Nursery is one of the original outdoor nurseries in Scotland! We opened in 2011 and we can answer any questions you may have - not everyone understands what outdoor learning looks like! Children in our care spend around 80% of their day outside in all weathers - but we have the best of both worlds because we also have a cosy cottage, outdoor classrooms and covered areas such as dens and a barn for when children want to shelter!