Room to roam

Posted on 16th May 2019 in School News, Nursery, Outdoor Learning, Prep Schools Guide

Mrs Eleanor Oelmann, Head of Nursery at Exeter Cathedral School, discusses the positive impact of the great outdoors...

For schools, green outdoor space can be at a premium. Ensuring that children have access to outdoor areas and time to explore them, can be instrumental in helping them develop the skills that will enable them to embrace future challenges.

A study by the National Trust, entitled Natural Childhood, found that today’s children spend significantly less time outside than their parents’ generation did – opting for indoor and digital entertainment instead. The National Trust’s report also indicates that regular doses of time connecting with nature may not only increase a child’s emotional resilience but significantly reduce the possibility of mental health problems in later life; greater physical activity promotes better mental health.

At Exeter Cathedral School, we have worked hard to ensure that our outside areas are designed to maximise children’s engagement and enjoyment of the outside world. Our Nursery and Pre-Prep children benefit from a number of purposeful green and outdoor spaces.

Across the year groups, children regularly explore the garden, observing the wildlife and participating in minibeast hunts, spring walks and Easter egg hunts. The garden provides the perfect stimulus for teachers when explaining the changing of the seasons, wildlife habitats and the life cycle of plants.

Lessons are often taken outside in the woodland play area, mud kitchen and story circle, where children share stories and hear their teacher read aloud. Alongside the green spaces, there is a traditional play area made of a specialised rubber crumb surface over which children can run, play, scoot and bounce.

As teachers, we know that time spent outside, for play or study, contributes significantly to a child’s overall well-being and development. It provides them with the space to explore, engage and build their self-confidence.