As a combination of safety concerns, British weather and technology keep children indoors for longer periods there is a growing importance of outdoor play space at schools. Outdoor play and learning has a variety of benefits and is often simple to implement if designed and planned correctly.
The benefits of outdoor play spaces:
An outdoor playspace brings a variety of benefits to children. These range from improved learning and academic results, improved health, to the development of a positive lifestyle. Allowing children to interact outdoors improves their wellbeing.
It is believed that allowing children to learn in an outdoor environment helps them conceptualise traditional subjects; this is most prominent in younger children in relation to weather, time and nature. This is associated with the use of all five senses in an outdoor play space rather than learning indoors when only hearing and sight are utilised. Exploring the ever-changing environment of an outdoor space fuels children’s imagination and helps develop outward thinking.
For early years children taking risk in play is also an important learning experience as they become risk assessors. This is an important part of growing up and is best done in the controlled environment of a school playground.
There are numerous health benefits associated with children playing outdoors. The more physical nature of outdoor play develops muscle strength and improves cardiovascular health. The strengthening of their limbs through physical activity can have knock-on benefits to learning including better quality handwriting and improved concentration. As childhood obesity continues to plague the British population, encouraging physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle at an early age helps to develop healthy adults for the future. In very young children the unfamiliar and ever-changing landscape of an outdoor environment can also promote the development of balance and coordination skills.
There are a few factors you should consider when developing your school’s outdoor play space, including the type of space you require, what you want to use it for and the logistics of developing and maintaining it.
Use of space
Do you want the space to be functional for multiple stakeholders and uses? You can utilise outdoor play spaces for structured curriculum part of the day, break-time and for the use of the community outside school hours. Your school’s priorities will be key to its design.
When designing your outdoor space it is important that it includes a variety of surfaces and resources in order to develop a space that promotes imagination and learning.
How Educate can help?
Educate’s expert team of procurement specialists can help find the best suppliers and contractors in order for your school to achieve the best value for money in terms of quality and price.