Education Beyond the Fence

Parenting , Play

|February 26, 2018| 4mins


The importance of play in children’s development has been well researched and is now highly recognized by many families. Unfortunately however, the amount of time devoted to playing outside is diminishing due to globalization, technology expansion and urban growth.

The Australian National Regulations currently requires all approved Centres to ensure that the outdoor spaces provided allow children to explore and experience the natural environment through suggested examples including: feature trees, sand and natural vegetation . However, at Timber Tots, we do not believe that it is enough for children just to look at trees and plants in the garden or have access to sand pits. They must also have access to nature to actively explore and engage with different types of natural environments in their everyday play.

Our aim is to transform educational practices by moving away from frequent indoor activities to regular planned and spontaneous use of the outdoor environment which surrounds us. By allowing children to have access to a variety of outdoor environments including their regular outdoor playground, to our dedicated purpose-built garden, to the natural parklands which our building backs on to. These different outdoor play spaces provide children with different play opportunities which cannot be replicated inside a room.

Our outdoor facilities are an open and ever-changing environment. An environment where it is possible to experience freedom to the natural world around them. Each space provides unique elements which allow children to ‘be exposed to sunlight, natural elements and open air, contributing to bone development, stronger immune system and physical activity’.

There are many other benefits linked with outdoor and nature play that have been documented. Some of the positive impacts include the following:
• Supporting creativity and problem solving
• Enhancing cognitive abilities
• Improving academic performance
• Reducing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms
• Increasing physical activity
• Improving nutrition
• Improving eyesight
• Improving social relations
• Improving self-discipline, and
• Reducing stress.

During outdoor play, children are not just learners but they become teachers too. They are able to share their knowledge and skills with others around them to achieve different tasks and challenges.

At Timber Tots we want to ensure that children have the opportunity to access these positive impacts by providing them with regular access to outside play. By incorporating Nature Play and Forest School programs, our Educators are continually striving to immerse children in opportunities to be involved in the natural world.

These programs are a Scandinavian approach to Early Childhood provision where outdoors is more a way of life. It is a holistic and inspirational learning process. By utilizing Forest School and Nature Play programs our Educators are able to ensure they are meeting the Early Years Learning Framework, age appropriate pedagogies, schemas, and most importantly the children’s individual skills and needs.

It is understood that there is a growing culture of fear about the risks involved in outside play and the possible accidents that might happen. However, these risks are an important part of children’s learning and development. Instead of underestimating what our children can do, outdoor play allows children to explore their own boundaries and learn when and how to stay safe. By considering the positives of risky play such as the feelings of success and happiness when a challenge or new skill is mastered , whilst promoting persistence and opportunities to exceed personal limits.