“the best kept classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky”
At Ballinrobe Bright Beginnings we value the benefits of outdoor play,and children here spend a significant amount of their time outdoors. We have a large secure outdoor area where children can explore. Our outdoor area is designed in accordance with the self-evaluation tools in the Aistear Siolta Practice Guide (NCCA 2015). There Is play equipment to suit pre-school and after school children.
In order to make the most of our outdoor area we have just finished renovating a large outdoor, all weather classroom. This room is equipped with tables and a seated area, where kids can comfortably wait out a rain shower.
We have swings, slides, a climbing frame, a walk bridge, an outdoor kitchen, and lot of muddy puddles. We also have a large secure wooded area where the afterschool children can climb trees, go on a balance rope, and generally explore their natural surroundings.
For children, the outdoor provides an enriched environment where free play and gross motor activity in young children are most likely to occur. While playing outdoorsa child is most likely to encounter opportunities for decision making that stimulate problem solving and creative thinking, as outdoor spaces are often more varied and less structured than indoor spaces. In addition, there are fewer constraints outdoors on children’s gross motor movement and less restriction on their range of visual and gross motor exploration.
The problem solving that occurs through play may promote a higher-level skill that integrates attention and other cognitive functions such as planning, organizing, sequencing, and decision making. This skill is not only important for later academic success but for success in those tasks of daily living that all children must master to gain full independence, such as managing their belongings and travelling to unfamiliar places.