At Little Garden Day Nurseries we believe outdoor play and learning is very important. Our gardens may be little but they are big fun! With water fountains, sand pits, mud kitchens and slides there is plenty of opportunity to learn, play and explore. Find out more here.
The importance of play for children’s healthy development is grounded in a strong body of research. As a natural and compelling activity, play promotes cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being, offering the necessary conditions for children to thrive and learn. Through play, children can experiment, solve problems, think creatively, cooperate with others, etc., gaining a deeper knowledge about his/herself and the world. From an early age, the possibility to experience several opportunities for unstructured play, in which the child can decide what to do, with whom and how, promotes positive self-esteem, autonomy, and confidence.
What is outdoor learning and why is it important?
- Outdoor learning engages more senses, provides physical activity and provides many hands on opportunities.
- Outdoor learning environments have equal importance to our indoor spaces.
- Some children learn best in outdoor spaces.
- Some topics of skills can be developed through the outdoor spaces. For example, mathematical skills and scientific exploration.
What are the benefits of outdoor learning?
- Nature experiences have been linked to better performance in school.
- Research has suggested that children between the ages of six months and six years spend an average of fifteen hours a day with electronic media.
- Their is obvious health benefits. Playing outdoors is a form of exercise that promotes well-being and wholesome physical development.
- Children develop muscle strength, coordination and confidence.
What are we doing?
With all this information in mind we overhauled our outdoor spaces and had a look at what we can do to enhance the learning for the children in our care. Fiona Alozie at our Clapham nursery was given the accolade of “Outdoor Champion” and used her knowledge and passion to put in to place a vision and ideas for the nurseries. Fiona wanted to take a closer look at what it was like to be a child in our nursery and listen to the children’s voice when planning the outdoor environments. After some research Fiona decided she wanted to create an environment that inspires the children to elevate and take pride in their achievements, to provide opportunities for the children to take risks and learn about the world through exploration. She wanted to nurture healthy children and give them an exciting childhood to remember.
“If your going to keep children safe you must provide places in which they can get the thrills they need, there must be a tree they can climb and ways in which they can safely get the experience of an adventure and the sense of challenge they crave” Susan Isaacs 1936
Fiona then began to implement her ideas and introduced the first mud kitchen in to the Clapham nursery. Complete with water butt, sink, pots, pans, utensils and plenty of mud, the mud kitchen provokes many imaginative play sessions with the children and chances to explore and create in an environment they can really call their own. They have recently added vegetables to the kitchen and now regularly enjoy creating their own soups and stews!
What Can You Do At Home?
No matter what size your garden is there is always something you can add to make it that little bit more exciting for your children. Pick a little corner and create your own mud kitchen. You can use old boxes and crates to create a simple unit or even just some old flower pots and a few planks of wood. Recycling old materials is key! Then add any old pots, pan, Tupperware and utensils, a bag of soil and some water and get stuck in!
If mud kitchens and mess aren’t really your child’s thing why not set up a tent? Again this can be very cheap and easy to make. Use an old bed sheet and some bits of furniture or wood to create the structure, add some cushions underneath and some of your child’s favourite toys! You will see their imagination growing by the minute!
No Garden? No Problem!
We have done our research and looked in to the best places to enjoy the outdoors in London.
- WWT London Wetland Centre – An urban oasis for wildlife and people, just 10 minutes from Hammersmith. Stroll among the lakes, ponds and gardens. The café is perfect for relaxing, and kids will love the play areas. Find out more here: https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/london/
- Visit London’s royal parks – Take time to ponder the memorials in Hyde Park, Go bonkers for conkers at Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park, Add some magic to your day in Kensington Gardens or spot the pelicans in St James Park!
- Marvel at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich; the world’s last remaining tea clipper. – A great time to expand your children’s imagination as you pretend to be sailors or pirates!
- Learn more about the cute penguins and lemurs with daily shows at ZSL London Zoo.
- Let your kids loose in London’s adventure playgrounds; from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park, to Timber Lodge and Tumbling Bay in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.