What are the benefits of EYFS outdoor play?
EYFS outdoor play helps to develop so much more than physical strength. It is the vehicle used to build first friendships, interests and develop children’s risk management skills. But how do you know if your current EYFS outdoor area is being used to its full potential? We share the benefits of outdoor play in the early years and 5 easy ways to make your EYFS outdoor play purposeful.
Want to jump straight to the EYFS outdoor resources? Feast your eyes on everything from weatherboards to performance stages on our online catalogue.
What are the benefits of EYFS outdoor play?
The benefits of outdoor play in the early years are huge. Aside from the appreciation for nature, the seasons and learning through concrete experience, there are multiple benefits to getting children outside and playing:
- Physical development
- Social progression
- Imaginative play
Physical development through play in the early years
Push, pull, twist, grab, balance. All these vital gross and fine motor skills are built upon during outdoor play. Let’s use a firm EYFS favourite of the Hummock Hill as an example. Thinking only about the physical development possible here, the core strength built by bum-scooting down the hill helps with stability with standing, walking and eventually running.
How to build risk management with toddlers
Toddlers begin to assess the level of adult support they need for new activities around the age of 2 or 3 years old. Outdoor play is a tool to help to build the independent skills needed to take calculated risks and can be a non-threatening step towards building risk management skills with toddlers.
Social skill activities for EYFS
Nursery settings are the magical places of firsts. First friendships, first adult relationships (outside of family) and plenty of firsts for sensory and social experiences. Giving starting points for child-initiated play can give subtle social support for interacting with other children. EYFS outdoor resources should be chosen to promote communication and language development skills, like messy kitchens!
Develop imaginative outdoor play in the EYFS
Why shouldn’t a stick be a magical wand, a police baton or even a sword? Imaginative play in the early years is crucial for language development. But sometimes, even toddlers need inspiration.
Outdoor reading has become increasingly popular across nurseries. Building a love for reading via outdoor play can break down any reluctance for learning, a huge tick in the benefits section! Your outdoor area may be missing a storyteller chair to get into the nitty gritty of nursery rhymes.
What does the EYFS framework say about outdoor play?
The EYFS framework supports the importance of outdoor play opportunities. Explaining that all EYFS providers must provide access to an outdoor play area. If your setting has limited space, outdoor activities must then be planned and delivered daily. The only time outdoor provision in EYFS should be questioned is due to extreme weather conditions (heat, wind, ice, snow, rain).
And what does Ofsted say about outdoor play in the early years? It is necessary to be considered good or outstanding. There must be opportunities to take appropriate risks and play actively both inside and outside throughout their day.
How to encourage outdoor play in the early years
Your nursery practitioners may be looking for inspiration for exciting outdoor games and activities (ideally ones that engage the children whilst reducing planning and workload, right?) So, how do you encourage outdoor play while mindful of practitioners’ workload? By choosing a range of outdoor play equipment that caters to broad interests. Having various resources for social demand, physical ability, imaginative play, and risk management is the key to encouraging outdoor play for all children.
1. Know your EYFS children.
Water and sand play, race tracks, climbing equipment, musical instruments, gardening planters? Your children are unique and will have different interests. Think of your current outdoor play area (even if a small outdoor space); which are the favourite resources and which need to be refreshed?
2. Support your disadvantaged pupils.
Some children in your setting might visit parks and playgrounds frequently on the weekends, but some may only have access to the school or nursery’s equipment. When children have concrete learning experiences, they can begin to build deeper connections across language acquisition. Level the playing field with your disadvantaged children by including some park play equipment in your provision.
3. Early years practitioner training for outdoor play.
If your nursery practitioners are confident about outdoor play and learning, your children will be too. Consider using a staff meeting time to evaluate your current EYFS outdoor area. Share activity ideas across your staff team to help to encourage quality outdoor play.
4. Share your outdoor provision with parents and carers.
Give parents some ideas about outdoor activities and games their child enjoys. By sharing images and videos of your growing outdoor provision, your parents can appreciate the variety of learning experiences you offer their child. Inspiring them to find similar activities (in parks or playgrounds) during the weekends. You may want to combine your outdoor play activities with stay-and-play sessions for new parents. Helping to bridge the gap between home and school in a positive, engaging way.
Find quality, affordable outdoor play equipment to fit your setting’s budget and space available and request a free Playtime by Fawns brochure.
Looking for EYFS outdoor area consultation? Join the happy schools that have revamped their outdoor play provision and contact a member of our support team.
“Working with Fawns to transform our EYFS outdoor space has been an utter delight! Highly professional and accommodating in all areas of need, we were able to have on-going discussions from concept to completion that has resulted in an excellent and inspiring outdoor area for our children to develop and enjoy.”