Learning for life
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Embracing all types of weather.

 

I am a teacher in a nursery class in a primary school in N. Ireland. I have 26 children in my class, who attend every day from 8.50 - 1.45.

 

I was very lucky in 2008 to get an opportunity to spend a week working in an outdoor kindergarten in Eikefjord in Western Norway. (Through the British Council's Life Comenius Long Learning Scheme) After visiting this kindergarten in 2006 I had already begun to question why we tended to stay indoors on wet or cold days but getting to see a whole week unfold outdoors was just what I needed to go back to N. Ireland and overhaul my outdoor play approach. We had also moved no a new purpose built nursery & school after being in cramped temporary accommodation.We started by buying a set of waterproofs for the whole class & asked parents to send in welly boots. Our new building had a covered area running the whole length of the nursery, which meant we could be outdoors but sheltered from the rain etc. It also meant that we could set up a variety of 'table top' activities outdoors too & we began to have our snack outside as we decided in 2009 to start the day outdoors.

The children all arrive and walk out through the classroom and into the playground & any who arrive after 9.00 enter through a side gate directly into the playground. We stay outside for at least an hour every day and a couple of days we have outdoor days when we stay out until story and lunch and try to go out again afterwards.

On our open days and evening before the children start nursery, we are always very open about our outdoor play approach and in the past 6 years I have never had a parent object to their child going outside every day, they know we have proper waterproofs and spare coats, hats and gloves in case children get cold. I often hear colleagues say that they can't go outside in the rain etc. as parents would object but in fact in my experience, parents want their children to be outdoors and know only too well, the benefits of playing outdoors in all weathers.

 

7 years on, I find myself replicating many of the wonderful experiences I saw on offer in Eikefjord; my class get to go to a local forest and climb trees, we eat outdoors, we jump in puddles and once a week we light a fire in the playground and cook something e.g. marshmallows, toast, hot chocolate, apples and cinnamon or even toasted teacakes!

 

Whenever other practitioners visit or seek advice on how to start building more outdoor time into their schedules, I always tell them to commit to going outside every day for a month and then review with staff, children & parents whether they should continue. I can guarantee everyone will want to keep up this practice and I now, honestly couldn't imagine ever staying indoors on any day.

 

http://www.nosuchthingasbadweather.blogspot.com