Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Outdoor Play & Learning

Today the National Trust is holding an event entitled the Natural Childhood Summit and has marked the occasion by releasing a new booklet called Reconnecting Children with Nature, which summarises the findings of the Natural Childhood report which was published earlier this year. This seems to be a popular area of interest at the moment as I've also had several dissertation students in recent months requesting information on outdoor play and learning. Which seems as good an excuse as any to make that the topic of today's post...

Once you've worked your way through the links above, it's worth acquainting yourself with the work of Tim Gill. His 2007 report No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society examines many of the issues related to the safety of playing outdoors, while he was also the author of last year's Sowing the Seeds report, which argued the importance of allowing children to connect with nature. These themes are explored further in his Rethinking Childhood website, which is updated regularly.

There are a number of other research reports and literature reviews which are available. The Outdoor Environment: How can our Children Learn to Care about their Futures? is a brief report which was published in July this year, while Children in the Outdoors: a Literature Review was published in 2009 by the Sustainable Development Research Centre. Engaging and Learning with the Outdoors is a 2005 report from the NFER, while Children’s Play in Natural Environments is a factsheet from the National Children's Bureau which summarises findings from various projects, and provides suggestions for further reading.

Forest Schools are an area which have attracted much interest in recent years, and are a way of combining children's exposure to nature with education - some of the benefits of forest schools are explored in the 2006 report A Marvellous Opportunity for Children to Learn. If this is a topic that interests you, it's also worth seeking out the work of Sara Knight who has written a couple of books on the subject - available online is a brief paper she has written entitled Can Forest School Act as a Spur to Better Quality Outdoor Experiences? which will also provide suggestions for further reading.

And to finish, an honorary mention of two projects which encourage children to get outside and messy! Love Outdoor Play is a campaign from Play England which forms part of their broader aim to allow children to have the freedom and space to play, while 50 Things to do Before You're 11 3/4 provides ideas for activities for children to do outdoors and is managed by the National Trust. Which is where we came in...

For a demonstration and practical advice on how children can learn in an outdoor environment, have a look at the video below, entitled Getting Out of the Classroom.

1 comment:

Juliet Robertson said...

Thanks for this list. Your readers may find visiting the Children & Nature Network website worthwhile as they have good research summaries.

On my own website there's a research section and an early years section with hundreds of posts all related to outdoor play and learning. www.creativestarlearning. co.uk