Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

A Hop, Skip and a Jump to School!

By: DR. SUZANNE EGAN AND DR. JENNIFER POPE

Tuesday 19 June 2018

As we come towards the end of the preschool year, parents may now be focused on the summer holidays and making the transition to primary school. Parents may be asking you what they should be doing over the summer to prepare their children for school. Based on our research, our advice is to encourage them to get their children outside to play, to climb and enjoy the outdoors…

We all recognise the importance of playing outdoors and may remember from our own childhoods being told to ‘go out and play’ or calls of ‘come in for your dinner’. The importance of outdoor play has been well-documented in research. The positive effects are wide-ranging and not only limited to health and well-being but for social and cognitive development too. Playing outdoors gives opportunities for young children to move around more freely, to take risks and explore the natural environment. Social interactions and how children work together can really be enhanced through outdoor games, depending on the type of games that children play and the level of cognitive challenge (e.g., organising and agreeing on the rules, taking turns, the steps required in an activity, building dens, etc.).

In early childhood practice, the outdoor environment plays a prominent role. Aistear strongly advocates the use of the outdoor environment to promote all aspects of children’s learning and development. It draws on experiences from countries such as Norway, where the outdoor environment plays a crucial role with the children spending most of everyday outside embracing the concept of the outdoor classroom. Siolta, the National Quality Framework for early childhood education (CECDE, 2006) also has ‘environments’ as a key standard for quality and makes specific reference to the outdoor environment.

But how do children play at home? Using the Growing Up in Ireland data, based on 9000 children, we examined how young Irish children play outdoors at home when they were 5 years old. Most children ride a bike, tricycle or scooter several times per week. The most popular daily activity is playing chasing (64%). Climbing on things such as trees, climbing frames or wall bars is engaged in much less frequently than the other forms of outdoor play as only 27% do this sort of activity daily which means that almost 3 out of 4 children do not. Sport or physical activities are a daily part of life for 22% of 5 year olds in Ireland while 42% engage in this type of activity once or twice a week. In their recent study, Safefood (2017) found that parents reported that bad weather (44%) and spending time on screens (26%) are barriers to promoting physical activity with their children.

Toddler running outdoors - A Hop, Skip and a Jump to School

How young children play and engage in physical activity should be a prime concern, both at home and in early childhood settings, given the evidence we have that the foundations of lifelong health and well-being are laid early on. Play has a significant role in all aspects of health for young children and physical, mental, social and emotional health are inextricably linked. How and where our children play may also have an impact on their developing immune systems. Playing with friends and developing relationships is important both for our physical and emotional health, and for navigating the school environment. Given the prevalence of obesity in very young children in Ireland, physical activity and play outdoors needs to be nurtured in the earliest years and children should have opportunity to play outdoors each day.

We need to encourage parents to support and allow their children to engage in various forms of outdoor play including climbing, jumping, chasing and having fun. Building resilience, strengthening social connections with other children and exploring the natural environment are key skills our children need, not just for school but for lifelong learning and well-being. Playing outdoors is crucial so spread the word, especially when school is but a hop skip and a jump away!

 

Suzanne Egan and Jennifer Pope will be discussing their research on outdoor play at the Revolutionising Play Conference in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, in September 2018.

 

Bios
Dr. Suzanne Egan is a researcher and lecturer in Psychology in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Her main research interests lie in the area of social cognition and cognitive development. Her research examines the processes involved in imagination, thinking and reasoning and in supporting cognitive development in young children, particularly through outdoor play and the home learning environment.

Dr. Jennifer Pope is a researcher and lecturer in Early Childhood Care and Education in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. She has a particular interest in promoting the health and well-being of young children.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

dogs(1) Window(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) STEM(2) Nonverbal(1) Gratitude(1) Wendy Lee(2) Childhood(1) Seas Suas(1) Leadership(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) science(3) value(1) outdoors(3) outdoor play(6) Book Club(2) Frustrations(1) Routines(1) Policy(2) collaboration(1) Scents(1) Vietnam(1) ICBN(1) overhear(1) Love(2) Sweets(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Winter(1) Inspirational(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Flowers(1) Sculptures(1) AsIAm(1) Plants(1) Exit interview(1) Communications(1) Children's Research Network(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Thanks(1) Child mental health(1) Awards 2019(1) San Miniato(4) Arts(1) ECCE(6) Research Conference 2019(1) Maths Week(1) Time Out(1) Visitors(1) Participation(1) parents(5) Art(6) Penguins(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Care routines(1) Identity and Belonging(4) preschool(2) National Awards 2018(2) ears(1) Change(1) community(5) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Story(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Frosty the Snowman(1) Arlene Forster(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Queues(1) Breathing(2) Giraffe(2) Well-Being(8) toddlers(3) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Professionalisation(4) Party(1) Names(1) UN(1) CIT(1) feisty(1) documentation(2) Christmas Creativity(2) dublin(2) Reflective Practice(1) pets(1) Spiders(1) Mount Everest(1) ECEC(1) CPD(1) respect(5) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Music(3) United Nations(1) Degree(1) DCYA(4) UD(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Capable(1) First 5 strategy(1) Budget 2020(1) Mathematicians(1) development(8) Funding(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) routine(2) Running(1) Employee(1) Workplace well-being(1) Italy(1) Workplace Relations(3) Trigonometry(1) Orla Kenny(1) Support(1) Trick or treat(1) Advocacy(1) Syria(1) under 3's(3) Engineering(2) Facebook(1) RTE Investigates(1) Appreciation(1) Maynooth(1) Line-ups(1) journey(1) Easter(1) meals(3) Relaxation(1) Titles(1) Map(1) ERASMUS+(3) memories(1) listening(1) Engagement(1) story time(1) Diversity(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) research(6) Reggio(1) purpose(1) Mindfulness(2) Feeding(1) Awards 2018(3) dining experiences(1) curiosity(3) learning(15) maternity health(1) HR(1) Learning Stories(8) Laughter(1) TRAP(1) blog(28) The Lullaby Book(1) Arithmetic(1) Learning journals(1) planning(1) Family(1) Creative(1) Prexit(1) Cork(1) Awards(2) Inclusion(3) Culture(2) Shoes(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) eating(1) Body Language(1) Home Corner(1) Quality(4) Affordability(1) CCTV(1) Visual Impairment(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Laugh(1) Behaviour(3) educating(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Graduate(1) Siolta blog(2) Self-regulation(1) Playdough(1) RIE philosphy(1) communication(4) Identity(5) AIM(2) Síolta QAP(1) European Project(1) Magic(1) Upcycling(1) Snakes(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Loss(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Mo Scéal(1) MA(1) Halloween(2) Through the looking glass(1) Recycling(2) Sport(1) relationships(15) Mealtimes(1) Wilenski(1) Meal time(1) trust(3) Primary School(2) Self-Esteem(1) Mayo(1) Wesco(1) Self Help Skills(1) Summer(1) Design(1) Care-giving routines(1) role playing(1) Fabric(1) child-centred approach(1) Favouritism(1) Interests(1) Study Trip(1) Drawing(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Montessori(2) Consent(1) Social Skills(1) Kilkenny(1) Dance(1) Intention(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Teamwork(1) books(4) Decision Making(1) Staff Motivation(1) Thank you(1) Learning Story(1) Graduation(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Mark Twain(1) Meet the Members(1) Maternity Leave(1) play(30) risk assessment(1) University(1) UNCRC(1) Confident(1) Early Years(1) dining(1) experience(1) Academics(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Nutrition(1) National Holiday(1) worries(1) Magnavacchi(1) Celebrate(1) Impact(1) Twitter(1) Little Buddies(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Performance Management(1) Xbox(1) Horizon 2020(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Interaction(1) Albert Einstein(1) Decisions(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Sequins(1) Fantasy play(1) Children's Rights(2) IGL(1) mushrooms(1) Trade union(1) risk(2) Learning Stories Award(3) interacting(2) Patterns(1) Sustainable(1) Photographs(1) Whole Group(1) early years research(1) Yoga(1) School Age Childcare(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) supportive environments(2) Socioemotional development(1) INTO(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Empathy(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Positivity(1) Kerry(1) Mud kitchens(1) Pobal(1) Glitter(2) Educators(1) Human Resources(1) Supernanny(1) transitions(10) grandchild(1) Oireachtas(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Environment(2) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Iceland(1) Academic Skills(1) Mixed age groups(2) Traffic Lights(1) Community involvement(1) Afghanistan(1) Investment(2) listen(1) Eritrea(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) First 5(1) Weather(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Buddy Bench(1) Leargas(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) National Awards 2019(1) Early Years Educators(2) Inspired Practice Award(5) Early Learning and Care(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Iraq(1) NAEYC(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Exclusion(1) food(1) Challenges(1) Exercise(1) refugees(1) Playschool(1) Adoption(1) Cognitive development(1) bonds(1) early childhood educator(1) Recycle(1) christmas(8) Obesity(1) environments(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Margy Whalley(1) Sustainability(3) New Appointments(1) Mental Health(3) Storytelling(2) MECPI(1) Trade Unions(1) curriculum(5) Japan(1) Mantra(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) scéalta(27) Gardening(1) The Jelly King(1) Inter-generational learning(1) social media(1) Budget 2019(2) Communicating(1) risky play(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Imagination(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Malaguzzi(1) Health(1) science week(2) EECERA 2016(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Time(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) animals(2) Vertical grouping(1) Confidence(1) Treasure Chest(1) Limerick(1) Event Guide(1) San Minia(1) Leprechauns(1) NCCA(2) Valentine's Day(3) Certificate(1) Maynooth University(1) emotional environment(1) Sleep(1) Games(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) educarer(1) Jenga(1) Masterclass(2) Settling in(4) Craft(1) conversations(1) Performing(1) Plastic(1) PIP(1) friendships(1) Wrapping paper(1) Pen green(1) Builders(1) Shapes(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Snack Time(1) Research Seminar(1) babies(7) Universal Design(2) Stress(2) Snacks(1) Budget 2018(1) TOY Programme(1) Exploring(1) education(2) Smiles(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Interactions(2) ReCreate(2) Wonder(1) outdoor space(3) Creativity(4) Autism(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Santa(2) Treasure(1) Inter-generational(1) Anxiety(2) Traditions(2) Role play(1) College(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Magda Gerber(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Independence(1) Celebrations(4) Belonging(3) Síolta(105) Our Little Seed(1) Buddies(1) baby room(1) SPICE Framework(1) linc(1) Family wall(1) Irish(1) Training(2) Light table(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Grief(1) play stories(1) EM Standing(1) Bereavement(1) Workforce(1) Painting(1) Scéalta Blog(87) Brain(1) Maths(4) Online(1) Competent(1) Biting(1) Lego(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) GDPR(1) Technology(2) Administrative Burden(1) Thinking(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Kids Own(1) Rituals(1) Maria Montessori(1) Ceremony(1) Touch(1) Aistear(108) reading(5) Engineers Week(2) Norway(2) Children(1) Blocks(1) Childcare(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) emotions(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) stories(2) Potential(1) Death(1) Qualifications(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) budget(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine