This help centre article has been written for Koru Kids' Home Nursery service
Why getting outside matters
Young children need to get outdoors every day.
An important influence on the Koru Kids Ethos is the idea of learning outdoors.
Research suggests that children who explore and experience the natural world on a regular and sustained basis, benefit from better physical health, mental health and learning.
The idea of taking the classroom outside started in Sweden in the 1950s and this type of nursery (often called Forest School) is now commonplace throughout Scandinavia. These countries are often celebrated for having children who suffer less from mental health difficulties and have strong educational outcomes.
There are clear physical benefits to playing outdoors regularly.
Children get lots more exercise when they play outdoors.
Research shows that kids are twice as active when they are playing outside, and every additional 10 minutes spent outdoors resulted in almost 3 extra minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
As childhood obesity increases, outdoor play is an important and simple way children can be encouraged to be more active.
Children can do physical things outdoors that are impossible indoors.
When children play outside, they have more freedom to move around. They can run at top speed, climb tall structures, swing from their arms and have more opportunities to jump, clamber and balance.
Outdoor play improves children’s personal, social and emotional development.
Children and adults alike feel better when in green spaces. Stress levels are reduced, we focus better and we are more cheerful. In children, this happiness translates into better behaviour moment to moment.
The outdoors gives children the vital opportunity to take chances and learn to cope with failure.
Playing outdoors enhances learning through creative and imaginative play.
Just being outdoors, improves focus which makes learning more possible.
Being outdoors gives lots of opportunities for hands-on learning.
Hands-on experiences provide the most effective form of learning. Going outdoors is an opportunity for kids to widen their sensory experiences, and gain an intuitive, "embodied" understanding of how things work.
Unstructured outdoor play improves executive functioning.
Skills that help us plan, prioritise, troubleshoot, negotiate, and multitask are crucial for our success. Creativity falls in here, too, and using our imagination to problem-solve and entertain ourselves. These are skills that must be learned and practised — and to do this, children need unstructured playtime.
Experiencing nature raises children more likely to protect the environment.
Kids who spend more time in nature express more appreciation for wildlife and more support for conservation.
How your Early Educator makes the most of the local area
They think beyond the playpark.
Children only learn so much from the structured play equipment in a playpark.
Climbing and balancing in natural play spaces enhances a child’s learning more as they have to use more of their brain to figure out where next to put their foot or hand. Climbing the ladder of a slide is good - but not if it’s the only thing they ever do.
There are more places to take young children to than you might first think.
London is peppered with green spaces.
There are likely to be green spaces hidden around your local area (in housing developments, patches of woodland, churchyards) that you’ve never even seen before.
The places you take children do not need to be big to be engaging learning environments.
Our Early Educators are great at seeking out and finding these spaces.
Your Early Educator won’t let the weather phase them.
It’s vital for children to go out whatever the weather.
The benefits of being outdoors on children’s physical and emotional health and their learning doesn’t go away just because it’s raining.
The happiness on children’s faces as they splash through puddles or discover ice make it all worthwhile.
Getting out in all weathers is a fabulous way for children to learn about the seasons, experience science in action and learn resilience.
There is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing.
Young children do not mind any weather as long as they are dressed appropriately.
We provide you with a kit list and your early educator will communicate with you clearly about what the children need to bring to wear each day.
Children thrive on routine.
Making each day predictable helps your child feel secure.
Running each day along a similar pattern means children always know what to expect and this gives them comfort and security.
Children are at their most energetic in the mornings.
Refreshed from a full night’s sleep children naturally want to run, climb, jump and, most importantly, learn in the mornings. So heading out first thing and then coming back for lunch is the routine we recommend our childminders follow.
This also means children can have a restful restorative sleep back at home in a dark, quiet sleep space.
If children have been out in the morning they will be happy playing at home in the afternoon.
If children have been out all morning they often enjoy the opportunity to play in the home. As much as children love the great outdoors - they love the great indoors too! Being back enjoying the toys is important too.
Safety and the outdoors
Getting places safely
Looking after children’s safety on roads and around traffic is our utmost priority
Your Early Educator will have a double or triple buggy and they may be able to use a sling for the youngest.
Reins and buggy boards are another way to keep little ones safe. We also teach children the importance of holding hands or holding onto the buggy.
When crossing the road we always use crossings where possible and teach the children to use them safely as part of their learning.
If your Early Educator uses a car, it is safe and insured.
Cars can be great for opening up adventures but we always make sure it is safe.
They make sure that you have the right kind of car seats and they are securely fitted strictly according to the instructions.
Their car insurance will cover them as a childminder.
They will never take children in the car without speaking to you first.
Taxis are only used for emergencies only.
Your Early Educator will always try and seek parents’ permission before taking a child in a taxi unless it is an emergency and you cannot be reached.
Our Early Educators will assess the risks involved for every place they take your children to.
When they plan to go somewhere new and unfamiliar they try and visit first without the children so they can scope out its suitability and any risks.
As well as looking for the obvious physical risks, they think about the risks associated with being somewhere unfamiliar.
When they are going somewhere with heightened risk or they cannot feasibly visit in advance then they do a written risk assessment.
Large museums and attractions have their own safeguarding policies which you can find on their websites - so your Early Educator will look at these in advance