Outdoor Education is integrated into early years education and may become increasingly important for urban students that may have restricted opportunities to spend time in nature.
Being outside, playing in dirt and/or sand, imaginative play with objects to hand such as sticks, leaves and trees are all part of exploration of the natural environment in these years, allowing them to develop a vocabulary of the places where they spend time.
Play that is not restrained by manufactured goods in a social context supports deep friendship and communication skills, as well as developing stronger intellect. Young children rely heavily on information provided by their senses and should be encouraged to do so in a range of natural areas such as parks, beaches, lakes and forests. They are exploring boundaries in their environment and are testing other peoples’ responses as they do so.
Adult responses to their actions are critical in shaping their approaches to adventure and nature. Facilitated outside play and exploration journeys are critical to developing connections with and care for nature. They are still in a stage where their ability to make good choices around water, heights and other natural hazards may not be well developed and requires education and constant supervision in and about these places.
They are beginning to develop foundational independence from parents and caregivers, and respond well to making decisions within boundaries. Regular and extended experiences in outside environments in all seasons encourage resilience and comfort in a range of weathers.