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Childcare & Early Education

Outdoor Learning in a Nursery Setting

From nature walks and planting seeds to outdoor craft and play, all of the children in our care experience a form of forest education to enjoy playing and exploring outside, develop independence, and understand more about the world they live in.

Being outside has huge benefits for everyone, no matter their age, so at Derwent Stepping Stones we felt it was important to make sure we created some form of outdoor learning nursery for children to experience. Our nursery settings are now able to enjoy a range of different activities in different natural environments that give children the opportunity to explore outdoor spaces independently, and learn and assess their own surroundings and abilities.

With the help of our wonderful friends at Pattonair, we’ve even been able to create our own forest garden at our St Marks Road setting, which is accessed directly from our main outdoor area. Once you enter the forest garden, you feel transported into nature. Our children love the different activities available for them within the forest garden, which covers all aspects of the early years’ curriculum. We explore nature throughout the seasons, watching with wonder as plants grow, water freezes and rain makes the best mud for the mud kitchen.

Why Go Outside?

There is a huge amount of research that has proven being outside improves mental, physical and emotional health in children. Exploring and playing outdoors with forest education provides new opportunities to improve communication skills and build relationships, as well as develop confidence, self-esteem and resilience as they take new risks in new activities and learn how to deal with both success and failure. Creativity, motor skills and problem solving are all challenged and improved, leading to what is often a very positive impact on a child’s behaviour and development.

A World of Excitement

The opportunities for outside play are endless, especially with a child’s imagination. When engaging with forest education, we find a balance between structured activities and letting children find their own interests while wandering the outdoor space under our supervision. Either way, the experience is always fun and always educational. Whether hunting for minibeasts, splashing in puddles, tending to baby plants or playing a number of games that allow them to run around, all of the children finish their forest education sessions with huge smiles and lots of excitement for their next trip outdoors.

Part of the Curriculum

Forest education supports many different areas of the early years’ curriculum. The new environments and outdoor spaces are a great place to continue physical development, and new activities often mean lots of new interactions to help improve communication skills and their own personal and emotional development. Nature is also an important part of learning itself. From seasons and weather to plant and animal life, there’s endless opportunities to learn about the world we live in. Using natural materials such as leaves and twigs there’s also lots of ways to enjoy some art and craft activities too.