What Is It?
We are excited to announce the launch of our latest campaign: the Outdoor Environment. This campaign is running from August until October. For the first six weeks the focus is on reviewing your existing outdoor environment and identifying areas that could be adapted to enhance the children’s learning. We are experiencing some glorious weather and now seems like the ideal time of the year to reassess your outdoor space. So if you are looking for ideas on how to spruce up your space on a budget, zone your areas to create more learning opportunities and link your outdoor activities to a variety of skills to support your Startwell work then look no further.
Why Is It Important?
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum, places strong emphasis on the importance and value of daily outdoor experiences for children’s learning and development. We know that physical activity is crucial in the growth and development of children’s brains as well as their body, intellect and emotional wellbeing. Research has shown us that many of the fundamental skills children need to master, such as fine and gross motor development, exploring and risk-taking can be most effectively learned though outdoor play (Johnson, J., Christie, J., Wardle, F. (2010)).
What Do We Need To Do?
We understand that no two settings are the same and therefore no two outdoor environments are the same. You all have different sized space to work with and so you need to utilise the space you have most effectively. To support you with this we have developed an ‘Outdoor Audit’ which covers everything from access and clothing to equipment, space and inventive ideas for creating new learning opportunities. The audit should be your first step as this will help you get a good baseline of where you are at and can be used to create a whole setting action plan.
To further develop your zoned areas/learning bays we have created information sheets with practical tips and activity ideas all linked to the Startwell characters. Here is the first one to get you started – ‘Outdoor Zones: Creative Zone’. The other zoned areas/learning bays will be emailed out over the next two months.
Concerned about cost? Revamping your outdoor area needn’t be expensive. We have put together some money-saving suggestions to spruce up your space – ‘Outdoor Environment on a Budget’.
To support you in developing skills in the outdoor area we have created a useful hand-out - ‘Developing Skills in the Outdoor Environment’.
How Do We Evidence It?
To stay engaged in the Startwell programme and to keep your award active you are expected to deliver and evidence this campaign. Remember that photographs and planning are a great way to capture evidence; you can collate your evidence using your electronic journals or Startwell scrapbooks.
The outdoor environment is also one of the additional criteria for the Startwell Award. The evidence you collect to support this campaign can be used when you move on to the Startwell Award.
If you have any questions or require further guidance please contact the Startwell team on 0121 683 2303 or email Startwell@bhamcommunity.nhs.uk
1 Johnson, J., Christie, J., Wardle, F. (2010). The Importance of Outdoor Play for Children. Retrieved from: http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2010/outdoor-play