Outdoor Play: Why It’s Important for Promoting Wellbeing in Children – Coppice Valley Primary School
WHEN do we stop playing and start adulting? In today’s fast-paced world, it seems as though children are growing up quicker than ever – at least on an emotional level.
But the New Parent Support (NCT) website suggests that something as simple as indulging in a spot of good ‘old-fashioned fun’ in the Great Outdoors can help kids in all sorts of ways. Plus, there’s nothing to stop new parents starting as they mean to go on, by taking their new-born out for a walk in their pram, to pushing toddlers on the swings. There’s plenty of outdoor play inspiration right here on the site, too.
“Playing outside is fun, exciting and important for children’s learning and development.” the site says. “Being outside is an exciting sensory experience for babies and toddlers. Babies will enjoy the exciting visuals on offer as you take them for a walk outdoors. Toddlers love the chance to explore different spaces and touch natural objects. Leaves, pinecones and puddles included.”
Negative Long-term Consequences
So, what can happen if kids don’t get enough fresh air? A 2016 report by the University of Plymouth revealed the changing nature of childhoods, with less time being spent outdoors – and the loss of exposure to the natural environment – having negative long-term consequences.
A study from Derby University weighed in on the matter, too. It stated that ‘children who were more connected to nature had significantly higher English attainment’ and a further report evidencing that exposure to learning outdoors provides a route for young people to become more resilient.’
There’s no denying that outdoor play helps children sleep better at night, which has got to be a good thing. It also provides a fun way to learn, giving kids the chance to use their whole body and develop their gross motor skills. Of course, it also promotes a healthier lifestyle, helps little ones care for the environment, appreciate nature, and allows them the opportunity to meet new friends. What’s not to love?!
In short, outdoor play is vital for our little ones – and here at Harrogate-based Coppice Valley Primary School, we’re already doing our bit to encourage kids to head outside. With the largest school playing field in Harrogate, there are also extensive grounds for children to explore, thanks to our very own beautiful oasis of nature, which is quiet, calm and safely tucked away from the main road. The area is so inviting, in fact, that we’re already making great use of it for everything from outside learning, to yoga and Taiichi.
If that wasn’t enough, each year, one of the school year groups gets the opportunity to camp out on the playing fields.
Plus, an upcoming community garden to the front of the school will give kids even more incentive to head outdoors. Surrounded by trees and grass, the area, which is currently fenced, will soon feature hedges to enhance the natural habitat and allow wildlife to thrive. There will also be vegetable and herb gardens, wildlife meadows, and picnic areas for the
school and the local community to use. Partnering with Horticap – who provide education in horticulture for adults with learning difficulties in Harrogate and the surrounding area – the school’s staff have started by making several raised beds, in which they can plant veg and herbs.
Child wellbeing and mental health is and always will be at the forefront of Coppice Valley’s values – as is raising aspirations and community involvement. Commitment to environmental principles is key, too – and we’re working to minimise waste and use recyclable materials where possible.
With regular access to the outdoors throughout the school day, children are boosting their physical health alongside their mental wellbeing. After all, we all feel a little better with a little more Vitamin D.
Discover for yourself how Coppice Valley Primary School is ensuring children benefit from outdoor play – just head here to say hello to the team and learn more. There’s also the opportunity to take a personal tour around the school with headteacher, Emma Meadus.
Written by: Emma Meadus – Headteacher at Coppice Valley Primary School. Proud to be part of the Red Kite Learning Trust.