Outside play an important part of children’s development

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Home > Media > News > Outside play an important part of children’s development
Outside play an important part of children’s development

Kindergarten and Early Learning children from St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School at Riverside, near Launceston, are going bush.

But the trek back to nature takes place without the students even leaving the school grounds.
After a sporadic program of bush play last year, it is now a regular activity.

For Early Learning children, a visit to the bush is a popular daily occurrence after morning tea.

The students put on coats and gum boots and splash through puddles on their way to ‘the bush’, a wooded area filled with trees, branches, sticks and stumps, at the northern boundary of the school grounds.

Early Learning @ St Anthony’s educational leader, Lynice Manchester, said that the children benefitted in many ways from bush play.

“The children resource their own learning and use the natural environment in free play,” Mrs Manchester said.
“Nothing is man-made down there. It is fantastic for children’s imaginations, friendships and resilience. They are never bored.”

Children build cubby houses and climb trees. Branches become ‘horses’ and logs turn into ‘buses’.

“They are risk-assessing themselves,’’ Mrs Manchester added. “There is so much value in doing this. It has blown me away.

“They also pick up leaves, twigs, gum nuts and she-oaks to use as art resources.”

Early Learning children also engage with older students from the school at the bush play area during breaks such as at recess.

Other benefits of the program are that children experience seasonal weather in a natural environment, learn self-management skills, enjoy unstructured play and form new bonds.

The CatholicCare Children’s Services Early Learning Program for three to five year olds opened at St Anthony’s in 2014.

CatholicCare Children’s Services Manager Louise Waterworth, who recently attended the Early Childhood Association Tasmanian branch forum in Hobart which emphasised the importance of children being given the chance to take some risks and learn life skills, agreed that outside play was an important component of this development.

“Outdoor play becomes increasingly important for today’s children as they are the generation of children for whom connectivity is the norm and [as Australian social researcher Mark McCrindle points out] any piece of knowledge is just a few clicks away,” she said.

The importance of children receiving ‘intelligent neglect’ was also an important topic at the forum, which attracted 150 educators from around the State