The Marvels of Outdoor Learning
Although the studies prove it, we don’t need scientific backing to know that outdoor play holds an abundance of benefits for our youngsters; and where better to explore than the lovely Yorkshire Dales we call home! A sanctuary of learning and play, ChipMonks Day Nursery in Hellifield is home to two amazing outdoor spaces, where the happy little learners make the most of exploring the great outdoors.
We caught up with Chipmonks owner and manager, Helen Monks, to discuss some of the benefits she and her team are witnessing first hand…
Playing outside in big open spaces enables our children to be more active. Chasing each other, throwing balls, imaginary play and den building all support children to become more physically healthy as they burn off calories, build up muscle strength and fitness, develop and test their skills and improve their heart health.
Physical activity increases endorphins and reduces stress. Getting children out and about in the fresh air provides them with Vitamin D, which can boost their mood. The children are always supported in naming and understanding their emotions, both inside and outside, so they have the tools to develop good mental health in the future.
Playing outside provides the ideal opportunity to help the little ones practice their social skills. Encouraging children to play games together helps them communicate, learn about turn taking, make friends, learn how to resolve disputes and begin to negotiate with each other. Staff join in enthusiastically and support the children in their play if needed. The children also learn to care for the environment as part of their outdoor learning sessions. They learn about local wildlife, plants and insects. They also love going on nature walks in our garden to see what they can find.
Outside, the children have more freedom to roam and choose/create their own games. They begin to build their self-reliance through outdoor play; they develop their independence as they get themselves ready and then make choices about their play. In this environment, adults may take a step back, allowing the children the freedom to make choices and develop their independence.
Many of the basic learning skills that we want to use indoors are developed and honed through outdoor play. Children practice the things they have learnt and develop new skills too. Skills include team work, concentration, resilience, problem solving, balance, being healthy and independence. Children become more motivated to take part in activities that will help to further develop these skills when they feel safe and have an engaging environment to explore with supportive adults. We often find that we have little or no “unwanted behaviour” when outdoors!
We are lucky to have staff who embrace the outdoor learning that we provide at ChipMonks. We have our RSPB Challenge Bronze award and we are currently working towards our Silver certificate. We have also recently employed an Outdoor Specialist who will once again be providing us with regular Forest School and Outdoor Learning Sessions, which we will be looking to develop over the Spring.
To find out more about how your little one an thrive at Chipmonks, visit www.chipmonks.co.uk or call Helen on 01729 850471
ChipMonks Day Nursery
Kendal Road, Hellifield, Skipton BD23 4HA