Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Outdoors – Simply Spectacular

Carol Duffy

By: CAROL DUFFY

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Do you find yourself watching travel shows and longing for the pleasure of sinking into that azure sea, or practically eating that scrumptious dish with Jamie Oliver as he tantalisingly raves about its taste? You can almost feel the frustration of sensory deprivation. I feel the same frustration when I try to write about the sensorial wonderland of outdoors. How can words alone truly do justice to the skills, empathy, and deep rooted emotions I’ve witnessed children display in early years settings across the country as they play and explore outdoors? How inadequate words are in expressing how life affirming it is to see a baby being mesmerised by the sensation of water as she splashes it through her fingers; how contagious the unbridled joy of jumping in muddy puddles with pals; how exciting the noisy charge up the grassy hill; how relaxing to lie on soft grass and play cloud spotting with friends and how inspiring, the toddlers epic effort of dragging large planks of wood across the undulating sand in the sandpit.


When we look closely at all of these experiences we see children learning about themselves, others, and the world around them. The power and value of play becomes crystal clear. With time, space and natural materials at their disposal play naturally flourishes and deepens. The sticks and branches become a den, the grasses, seeds, and pebbles become dinner, the mound becomes a mountain, the sand becomes a building site and the water becomes something that changes everything.


We see strong urges in our babies, toddlers and youngsters to get outside. These urges are easily understandable when we remember the freedom and opportunities of our own outdoor play. Outside, with a freedom to ramble around an engaging space they find the extraordinary in the ordinary. The wind is just one example. What fun it is to share a baby’s reactions as they experience wind on their faces. How privileged we are to engage with their sensations. We can do it so naturally with a gasp or a giggle or even by upping the expectation “Here it comes, here it comes are you ready….whooosh”. These simple yet spectacular moments of connection reward us with hoops of laughter and the desire to repeat the experience.

Watching a 9 month old crawling on grass and exploring a daisy for the first time is a humbling experience. No longer dependent on the adult for movement these newly mobile babies literally have the world at their feet. We adults have such a role to play in supporting our babies and toddlers explore this unfolding, fascinating, exciting, confusing and sometimes scary place.


Consider the Oohs and Aahs, and indeed the Yuks, from toddlers when snails have been found. I’ve watched children’s intense investigation and empathy for little creatures, and sometimes I’ve heard the sudden deadly crack of one underfoot as they explored what happens if…


I recall how enthralling it was for a two year old to have a caterpillar crawl up her arm as she braved her fear, and how she smiled with pride in a “zone of proximal development” as her four year old friend told her “See I told you it tickles but it doesn’t hurt”.


The more you think about it from a child’s perspective the more you can appreciate all that the outdoors offers. This is why we need to seriously consider how we provide opportunities to connect children to all that nature has to offer, and all that their play instinct can create. They are dependent on us to afford them time, space and companionship to develop, explore and share their simple yet spectacular outdoor adventures.

 

So what about your outdoor space? Is it a place where freedom of choice reigns and learning is a playful journey in the company of friends? Is it a place where childhood is lived, play unfurls, friendships are forged, skills are learnt, nature is celebrated, and memories are made? For these are the things that make outdoor play and learning so simply spectacular.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Dr. Emer Ring(1) PIP(1) Italy(1) communication(4) Pobal(1) Rituals(1) Seas Suas(1) ECEC(1) curriculum(5) Shoes(1) Photographs(1) listen(1) risky play(2) Little Buddies(1) Human Resources(1) Awards 2018(3) Smiles(1) Christmas Creativity(2) curiosity(3) Mount Everest(1) Our Little Seed(1) Visitors(1) Creative(1) Margy Whalley(1) Names(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Penguins(1) preschool(2) Ceremony(1) Awards(2) TRAP(1) Magda Gerber(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Love(2) Performing(1) parents(5) Growing up Outdoors(1) Online(1) Reggio(1) Frustrations(1) Degree(1) Upcycling(1) meals(3) Challenges(1) Change(1) ears(1) Mixed age groups(2) Well-Being(6) risk assessment(1) Wrapping paper(1) Prexit(1) Laughter(1) Self-regulation(1) story time(1) linc(1) Trade Unions(1) CIT(1) EM Standing(1) Playdough(1) Traditions(2) Support(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) early childhood educator(1) Recycle(1) Snacks(1) Engineers Week(2) Laugh(1) Relaxation(1) Giraffe(2) Engineering(2) Easter(1) science week(2) Celebrations(4) Maths Week(1) Montessori(2) Appreciation(1) Grief(1) ERASMUS+(3) educarer(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Graduation(1) Mantra(1) mushrooms(1) Empathy(1) Mealtimes(1) Sustainable(1) transitions(10) Belonging(3) Pen green(1) Gardening(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Inter-generational(1) Traffic Lights(1) play stories(1) Horizon 2020(1) Malaguzzi(1) Weather(1) environments(1) Running(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Iceland(1) outdoor play(6) Certificate(1) Gratitude(1) Graduate(1) Mental Health(3) Environment(2) respect(5) Mayo(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) research(6) Death(1) Family wall(1) Sport(1) Anxiety(2) UD(1) Síolta(100) Interaction(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Siolta blog(2) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Leprechauns(1) Social Skills(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Stress(2) bonds(1) Self-Esteem(1) Jenga(1) Child mental health(1) Potential(1) College(1) National Holiday(1) overhear(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Policy(2) Identity(4) animals(2) Scents(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Culture(2) Time Out(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Magic(1) Early Years Educators(1) Orla Kenny(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Interests(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) friendships(1) Childhood(1) Behaviour(3) Advocacy(1) Meet the Members(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) RTE Investigates(1) conversations(1) Meal time(1) NCCA(2) Sequins(1) Party(1) Community involvement(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) TOY Programme(1) Dance(1) AsIAm(1) Santa(2) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Nonverbal(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Workplace well-being(1) UN(1) InspireMe.ie(1) United Nations(1) Craft(1) refugees(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Breathing(2) Feeding(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) STEM(2) Maths Week Ireland(1) Confident(1) Inspirational(2) Learning Story Awards(1) Wonder(1) Educators(1) books(4) child-centred approach(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Growing up in Ireland(3) Nutrition(1) Employee(1) MECPI(1) NAEYC(1) Aistear(105) Oireachtas(1) Halloween(2) Interactions(2) Loss(1) Thank you(1) IGL(1) Autism(3) Workplace Relations(3) Scéalta Blog(82) Maths(4) Fantasy play(1) The Lullaby Book(1) San Miniato(4) Budget 2018(1) Sweets(1) Brain(1) National Awards 2019(1) under 3's(3) Painting(1) Treasure Chest(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Glitter(2) Mud kitchens(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Arlene Forster(1) Thinking(1) Playschool(1) Yoga(1) Family(1) Mindfulness(2) Síolta QAP(1) RIE philosphy(1) National Awards 2018(2) The Jelly King(1) emotional environment(1) worries(1) trust(3) Blocks(1) Children's Research Network(1) Masterclass(2) First 5(1) Sociodramatic play(1) educating(1) experience(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Maynooth(1) Light table(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Creativity(4) memories(1) Learning journals(1) Affordability(1) budget(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Touch(1) Care-giving routines(1) blog(28) Story(1) Lego(2) Vertical grouping(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) documentation(2) feisty(1) Favouritism(1) INTO(1) Eritrea(1) Cognitive development(1) Positivity(1) Administrative Burden(1) Recycling(2) Maternity Leave(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Patterns(1) MA(1) Buddy Bench(1) Learning Story(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Impact(1) scéalta(25) Qualifications(1) Primary School(2) Socioemotional development(1) Professionalisation(4) reading(4) Inclusion(3) Iraq(1) Routines(1) Snack Time(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Wilenski(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) baby room(1) University(1) Mo Scéal(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) dining experiences(1) Line-ups(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Afghanistan(1) Communications(1) Twitter(1) Funding(1) Buddies(1) European Project(1) ICBN(1) Training(2) Wesco(1) Settling in(3) supportive environments(1) Syria(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Early Years(1) Decision Making(1) Children(1) UNCRC(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Snakes(1) Budget 2019(2) Academics(1) Thanks(1) Norway(2) Learning Stories(7) dining(1) Investment(1) Leargas(1) Irish(1) Book Club(2) Kilkenny(1) Trade union(1) emotions(2) Albert Einstein(1) learning(15) listening(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Home Corner(1) Fabric(1) Plastic(1) Design(1) Bereavement(1) development(8) risk(2) Technology(2) Builders(1) dublin(2) Decisions(1) Time(1) Consent(1) stories(2) Vietnam(1) Trick or treat(1) role playing(1) Competent(1) dogs(1) journey(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Xbox(1) Adoption(1) early years research(1) DCYA(4) Childcare(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Limerick(1) Shapes(1) GDPR(1) CPD(1) Event Guide(1) babies(7) Aldo Fortunati(4) Learning Stories Award(3) Children's Rights(1) Obesity(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) science(3) EECERA 2016(1) Kerry(1) Valentine's Day(3) ReCreate(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) New Appointments(1) pets(1) Communicating(1) Map(1) CCTV(1) Sustainability(3) Quality(3) Sleep(1) Exit interview(1) Awards 2019(1) Imagination(3) Capable(1) Trigonometry(1) Storytelling(2) Workforce(1) Independence(1) Performance Management(1) Mark Twain(1) outdoor space(3) Facebook(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) outdoors(3) maternity health(1) Academic Skills(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Kids Own(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Sculptures(1) Flowers(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Tuscan Approach(2) Winter(1) Research Seminar(1) toddlers(3) education(2) Confidence(1) Titles(1) Exclusion(1) ECCE(6) grandchild(1) Arts(1) social media(1) Cork(1) Through the looking glass(1) Treasure(1) Mathematicians(1) Health(1) interacting(2) Self Help Skills(1) christmas(8) Body Language(1) community(5) eating(1) Music(3) Exercise(1) routine(2) Wendy Lee(2) Exploring(1) Universal Design(2) San Minia(1) Celebrate(1) Magnavacchi(1) Supernanny(1) Biting(1) Diversity(1) Window(1) Arithmetic(1) SPICE Framework(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Queues(1) Teamwork(1) Maria Montessori(1) planning(1) Japan(1) AIM(2) Plants(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Art(6) Maynooth University(1) Care routines(1) First 5 strategy(1) relationships(14) Visual Impairment(1) play(29) Role play(1) Study Trip(1) Games(1) Drawing(2) Spiders(1) food(1)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine