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Published by Riverside Training (Spalding) Ltd

Thursday is Outdoor Classroom Day, when more than 345,000 nurseries and schools will celebrate the joys and benefits of outdoor learning.

The initiative started in 2011 with a handful of schools in London taking part in a new campaign called Empty Classroom Day.

Word, and support for the campaign, spread and the annual event went global with a name-change in the process.

This year's Outdoor Classroom Day has seen a record number of nurseries and schools sign up to the initiative.

The organisers say the day is designed to raise awareness of the fact that spending time outdoors is not just good for health and wellbeing, but also has strong links to improved attention and concentration, increased productivity and learning, better behaviour, and more positive relationships between adults and children.

I totally agree, outdoor play and learning is essential for all aspects of a child's development - whatever their age.

It provides experiences that have a positive impact intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically.

Anyone who observes children playing and learning outside can not fail to find their sense of enjoyment, excitement and wonder infectious.

Providing stimulating outdoor play is key within the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum and embraces all seven areas of learning.

In an age were technology means many children - even very young ones - lead a sedentary lifestyle being outdoors at their Early Years setting offers the opportunity to be physically active.

For many it may be the only opportunity they have to play outside safely and freely while they learn to assess risk and develop vital skills to manage new situations.

According to the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, a charity existing to champion learning outside the classroom, the benefits include:

  • supporting the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering children opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting a sense of well-being
  • giving children contact with the natural world and offering them experiences that are unique to outdoors, such as direct contact with the weather and the changing seasons
  • helping children to understand and respect nature, the environment and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles
  • supporting children’s problem-solving skills and nurturing their creativity, as well as providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness
  • offering space, both upwards and outwards, and places to explore, experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities

If you want to learn more about how play and learning opportunities can be facilitated outdoors then our CPD short course Outdoor Play, is the perfect learning tool.

The course is aimed at those working with children and young people and outlines the benefits of outdoor play, provides activity ideas and explains how to encourage children to expand and develop their imaginative play outdoors.

In addition learners will discover how to review their current outdoor play provision, plan a new space and help children to manage risk