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Spending time outdoors, particularly in natural environments, is good for all of us and especially for children. The Care Inspectorate recognises the benefits of accessing the great outdoors and its publication, My World Outdoors, aims to make a positive contribution to the on-going development of outdoor play as part of early learning and childcare in Scotland. The Care Inspectorate has a specific role to play as the national regulator and improvement body, providing direction and advice to registered services, including child-minders, playgroups, nurseries and out-of-school provision.
There is a long historical tradition of outdoor experiences for children in Scotland, marked by innovation stretching back over two hundred years. There is significant evidence that playing outdoors is more than just fun: it can contribute positively to child development, child health, and early learning. That is why My World Outdoors groups together examples of effective practice around the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators, where children are safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included. With creativity and effective leadership, all types of care services in every part of Scotland can use outdoor play to support each of these wellbeing indicators for children.
This is a good practice resource which shares inspiring stories from services showing how much children are benefiting from outdoor play. Mainstream as well as outdoor-based services are featured and it encourages all early learning and childcare services to make the most of the natural environment. This resource is as much for urban as rural services and is for all age ranges of children and different service types.
Many childcare services have access to their own gardens and outdoor play areas; many are also close to outdoor parks, woods, beaches and fields which can help stimulate a love of the outdoors and allow children and young people to explore nature. Some services provide an outdoors experience one day a week. Others have designed their provision in even more innovative ways.
This resource pack seeks to learn both from mainstream services which are providing innovative access to the outdoors, and care services provided entirely outside. It advocates moving from a risk-averse approach to one where proportionate risk assessment supports children to enjoy potentially hazardous activities safely.
For practitioners providing services, this resource is helpful in promoting outdoor and natural play, whether the service is wholly or just partly delivered outdoors. The SHANARRI framework used in this resource also provides a good model for assessing and reporting impact on children's outcomes. Looking through the SHANARRI lens also reflects changes to how the Care Inspectorate inspects services, moving from measuring inputs such as whether an outdoor play area is safe and adequately equipped, to assessing outcomes and how children actually experience outdoor and environmental play in all weathers. This resource is also intended to assist specialist early-years practitioners within the Care Inspectorate and local authority managers planning and commissioning services, as well as people providing services.
To access My World Outdoors, as well as a wide range of supporting resources, visit The Hub.
Other articles published in our September 2016 newsletter:
Other articles about play:
Other articles about early learning, language and wellbeing: