The All-Important Outdoor Play Space

The All-Important Outdoor Play Space is integral to a high quality program

The National Quality Standard (NQS), Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and My Time, Our Place (MTOP) have altered educators’ beliefs about outdoor play spaces in early childhood education and care settings. This includes how these spaces should look, how and when they should be used, the learning that occurs, and how each of these needs to be documented.

Educators now know that the benefits of outdoor play time extend far beyond the opportunity for children to let off steam and develop their gross motor skills. They no longer limit their involvement with the children to times when children’s safety is compromised or to resolve conflict between children. They recognise that outdoor and indoor learning spaces are equal contributors to children’s learning opportunities across all domains.

Consistent with the NQS, educators want their services’ outdoor play spaces to include a wide variety of natural elements. They look for plants, trees, rocks, mud, water and edible gardens. They ensure children have places where they can play alone or in small or large groups. In addition, educators set up activities and resources so that children can read, draw, paint, dance, play music, build, enjoy dramatic play, or revel in physical activity.

Educators celebrate the learning that takes place as the children dig, plant, care for and pick the harvest from edible gardens; tend to live creatures (e.g. chickens, worm farms or native bee hives); risk-take, explore and discover; and, connect with nature. They document far more than the physicality of children taking part in these activities. They document children’s learning across all five EYLF and MTOP Learning Outcomes.

It is exciting to see how educators have made the connection between the outdoor play space and children’s learning. However, it is even more exciting to see how educators strengthen this connection by applying their knowledge, resourcefulness and creativity with thoughtfulness and intention.

Wanting to improve your play space even further before the warmer months begin? Contact STEP today to see how we can help. Alternatively, click here to view our latest natural Forestplay Outdoor Range – offering hours of excitement & imaginative play for the little ones!

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