By Mrs Curtis, Reception Teacher and Forest School Leader, Akeley Wood School.
After months of being in lockdown and spending so much time in front of screens, it feels more important than ever to get children outside. Let them explore the world around them, improve their health and mental well-being, take risks and have some fun.
Outdoor play gives children the freedom to move around and improve their motor skills through kicking, climbing, or running.
Exploring and undertaking outdoor activities helps children promote their physical development and co-ordinate their bodies and movements.
Getting outside in the park or the garden gives children the opportunity to practise many physical skills whilst appreciating the natural world around them.
Children often feel happier whilst using up that extra energy. Taking toddlers and babies on a walk gives them plenty of new and exciting things to see too, with plenty of different shapes and colours. The world is a sensory place. Let them listen to what is around them and touch natural objects such as pinecones or moss. Talking together about what they can see or feel helps to extend and enhance their vocabulary.
As a parent it can be difficult to let your child take a risk, such as climbing a tree or a slide, for fear of them getting hurt. But there are benefits to taking supervised risks.
With some parental guidance, initial support and suggestions on ways to stay safe, you will soon see their confidence grow as they test out ideas and work out what they are comfortable doing. Think about what skills they are building in having a go at the activity they want to try. Watching from nearby can ensure their safety but can encourage and help children build independence.
We want children to give activities a go without constant adult assistance and to be independently motivated to learn. Children will begin to be inspired by a task for longer periods of time when they succeed and enjoy something and then begin to extend their own play to achieve their own goals. Sometimes children need encouragement to persevere when they are faced with a challenge. Praising success, however small the achievement, can go a long way in encouraging a child to try again when faced with a challenge.
As a Forest School teacher, I spend half my week outside with children climbing trees, building dens, feeding chickens and enjoying ‘the great outdoors’. I have had the pleasure of seeing children develop better social skills as they work together and communicate to build a den or complete an obstacle course.
There are many positive interactions between children who may not normally speak in class - I find quiet children chat away in a less intimidating, informal environment. These interactions often lead to children taking part in creative and imaginative play. They become resourceful, finding other ways to solve problems using the objects that are around them. A stick can become a magic wand, a fallen tree is now a castle, anything can be anything.
Time outside is something the whole family can enjoy together, whilst learning more about the world around you and improving your health and well-being. So hunt out those wellington boots and enjoy jumping in some muddy puddles together!
The Reception Team at Akeley Wood Junior School specialise in every child’s successful transition into school life. Reception is packed full of exploration and discovery. For more information about the School and Nursery, the idyllic location and leading Forest School provision, you can attend the Open Evening on Thursday 24th June, 5.00pm – 8.00pm. Please contact Admissions on 01908 555803 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.akeleywoodschool.co.uk to find out more.