Getting the kids outside...

by Caroline Wellen, French Tutor, Discover & Be

Getting outside can be a pleasure in any season as long as you have the right clothes! However, Spring is a time when many people think about getting outside more, and the longer hours of daylight definitely help with this. There are so many benefits to children of being out in the open air:  they are freer to run, climb, skip, hop, do cartwheels or whatever they may feel like. This not only helps their physical development but also their mood and sense of independence.

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Forest schools are becoming increasingly popular in the UK after having been developed successfully in Denmark decades ago. Some local pre-schools and schools use this idea to enable children to learn in an outdoor environment where they can develop numerous other skills as well. Whether in a forest school environment or simply with family and friends, being outside offers so many directly educational benefits - you can learn about shadows, plants, animals, water, farming methods, you can design and build a den, get inspiration for writing, practise mathematical skills such as measuring, find stimuli and materials for art, to name just a few examples.

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Outside the 'curriculum' though children can obtain many other benefits, including increased self esteem, improved communication, better mental and spiritual health and  teamwork skills. I have noticed time and time again with my own son that getting him out in the fresh air can quite suddenly improve his mood. Climbing trees can help a child increase in confidence, needing to get across a river helps with problem-solving skills and spotting a new plant or insect can develop curiosity. In addition, the more time children spend outside and see that it is a positive place to be, the more likely they will be to want to look after the environment to help protect this.

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The outdoors can be a treat for all the senses - how calming it is just stopping for a moment and listening to the sounds of nature around us. Smelling bluebells, feeling the difference between silver birch and oak tree bark or spotting different types of leaves can help improve sensory awareness. How about picking blackberries in a nearby hedgerow (make sure you check if you aren't sure something is edible)?

You don't need to spend lots of (or any) money to enjoy being outside. Some fantastic local places to play and learn outside include:

  • Ashenground wood

  • Devil's Dyke

  • Birling Gap beach for rockpooling (at low tide) *check tide times so you don't get stranded!*

  • Chailey Common

  • Wakehurst

  • Tilgate park

  • Any park!

  • Any of our super local National Trust gardens

I hope you enjoy getting outside this Spring with your children. Maybe you will discover a new favourite place to go!

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