Playing and learning outdoors will be a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland, following a national commitment from 50 people and organisations across the country.
Early Years Scotland (EYS) has joined with the Scottish Government, Inspiring Scotland, as well as education groups, academics and NHS Health Scotland, to sign up to a National Position Statement
to make playing and learning outdoors an everyday activity for Scotland’s children and young people.
The Position Statement was officially launched this morning (Monday 22 October) by the Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Maree Todd MSP, alongside EYS Chief Executive, Jean Carwood-Edwards, EYS Head of Professional Learning and Quality Assurance, Michele Doull, and representatives from health, education and the environment at the Muddy Buddies outdoor nursery in Drumchapel, which is run as a partnership between several local nurseries, Glasgow City Council and Inspiring Scotland.
The statement asserts the health, wellbeing and educational benefits of playing and learning outdoors and commits signatories to help widen access to natural and communal spaces and to enriching urban spaces for children and families to play in.
Ms Todd said: “We know the benefits playing outdoors delivers for children in terms of improved health and wellbeing, building resilience and connecting with nature. Scotland has a wealth of great outdoor space, including in the heart of our cities, and the expansion of early learning and childcare provides us with an opportunity to increase the amount of time children spend playing in these wonderful spaces. Muddy Buddies is a perfect example of the collaborative working and commitment between partners that the position statement promotes, all delivering a high-quality outdoor experience for the children involved.”
The Position Statement draws on the input and expertise of many of the signatories who met in the summer to form Scotland’s Outdoor Play and Learning Coalition. The Coalition was created following a meeting organised by Inspiring Scotland early in the year to bring together leaders in government, health, education and the environment to address growing concerns about childhood health and wellbeing.
Inspiring Scotland has been working to promote and deliver outdoor play for children since 2010 and works in partnership with charities, local authorities and Scottish Government to deliver play in primary schools and communities. Earlier this year, Scottish Government announced funding for Inspiring Scotland to develop outdoor nurseries in eight local authorities as part of its expansion of free childcare hours.
Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland, said: “We want all Scotland's children to thrive and we believe passionately that being outdoors, being active, playing and having fun is one way we can do that. We know that outdoor play and play-based learning has great outcomes for children; improved physical activity leads to better health and wellbeing but play is also where children learn, make friends, share and cooperate, take risks, test boundaries, think creatively and problem-solve. There are also wider benefits for society - a generation of children that grow up, not just familiar with the outdoors but passionate about it, a generation that love and understand the world around them is a generation that will protect and care for it. If we want a future at all, we need that to be the case.”
Jean Carwood-Edwards said: “At Early Years Scotland we are absolutely delighted about the huge shift that is taking place in relation to more and more outdoor nursery provision! High quality outdoor Early Learning and Childcare has so many benefits for our young children, including physical activity, fresh air, space, nature and an enhanced sense of freedom and happiness. Being outdoors also supports endless opportunities for challenge and risk, and has such a positive impact on children’s well-being, as well as nurturing a love of the environment from the earliest years. If only such opportunities had been available when my three daughters were little!”
Research from around the world demonstrates the enormous benefits to children’s health, wellbeing and development of getting outside to play and the right to play is enshrined in United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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