Free Essay

Outdoor Play

In: Social Issues

Submitted By rlogan67678
Words 1857
Pages 8
BA (Hons) Children and Early Childhood (Top-up)


‘Individual Practice Project’



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Date submitted:

Contents Page

Abstract Page 3

Section 1.0 Introduction Page 5

Section 1.1 Research Aims Page 8

Section 2.0 Literature Review Page 9


Children’s freedom to play outdoors and have no limitations is somewhat controversial in this day in age. There are numerous views whether outdoor play is actually beneficial or not, when it comes to discussing children’s learning and development. In recent government documents such as The Early Years Foundation Stage (2012), references are made about outdoor play and its importance for children regardless of the weather. Potentially, there is an adventure to be made every day when a child takes the classroom outside, and no where offers more potential. Allowing parents and practitioners to learn about the advantages of risk taking but also explore the big wide world can help children gain a better insight and knowledge of world they live in. The outdoor area changes with the seasons therefore presented with more spontaneous challenges resulting in developing the children holistically.

This research study is small scale and intends to focus on the importance of outdoor play for young children but also investigate what knowledge and understanding both parents and practitioners have on the chosen subject. The case study will be carried out within a day nursery setting. The researcher intended to gain a wider understanding of the chosen topic – outdoor play, and the views of this within the setting but also see how the setting responds to the Government framework The Eely Years Foundation Stage when it comes to playing outdoors. The researcher aimed to do this by gaining access to one early years setting with an overall aim of identifying the perceptions of both early years professionals and parents in regard to the value of outdoor play on their children’s development.

Date was collected from a small number of people within the chosen setting which included parents, practitioners, an Early Years Development Officer and a Learning and Development Officer (both from Surestart), in order to gain an insight into their beliefs on the controversial subject of outdoor play, but also to try pin point any mutual understandings around the topic. Parents, practitioner, the Early Years Development Officer and a Learning and Development Officer’s views and experiences were analysed and compared to ‘good practice’ from wider literature in the area.

Semi-structured interviews took place as part of the data collection process as well as questionnaires which were handed out to parents and practitioners within the early years setting. This was to give the researcher a wider range of data to analyse the perceptions and knowledge of the candidates which were involves in the data collection process.

Blah blah fucking blahhhh.

*finish at end of investigation*

1.0 - Introduction

It is commonly perceived that some parents will not allow their children to play outdoors is the weather is too hot or too cold or yet again too windy. When realistically, no matter what the weather, children should always be able to play outside as and when they wish. Outdoor play for children helps them to develop holistically, which is something that playing indoors cannot necessarily compare with.

Brown and Taylor (2008 p. 8), believed that ‘In many modern communities , for a variety of reasons (including the increase of traffic, parental fears and poor housing design) that process is breaking down, with the result that children are not achieving their natural state of balance.’ It is believed that it is the role of the practitioner to create the ‘right’ conditions. Brown and Taylor (2008 P.8) go on to say that ‘The first aim of play work is simply to create the sort of rich environment that enables play to take place.’ Furthermore, Brown and Taylor (2008 p.8) carried on to say ‘We should not lose sight of the idea that children are maturing at the same time as they are playing, and so the second aim of play work should be to create the sort of environment that enables the child to grow towards self-fulfilment, or referred to by Maslow (1973) as self actualisation.’

As cited from Earlychildhoodnews (2008, [Online]) ‘The outdoors is the very best place for preschoolers to practice and master emerging physical skills. It is in the outdoors that children can fully and freely experience motor skills.’ This is an opportunity that not all parents and practitioners provide for the children. Especially parents when it comes to the safety of their children and the current issues going on in the news of child abduction, it is obvious to see why they may be reluctant to allow their children to play freely in open spaces. On the other hand, practitioners working within day nurseries which the majority have safe, secure enclosed spaces for the children to play in, should not be preventing outdoor play but encouraging the children to explore and investigate.

The topic of outdoor play is of particular interest of the researcher, as the early years setting where the research investigation will be carried out actually does not have an enclosed outdoor garden. Therefore, the researcher will be looking more into the knowledge of the practitioners, knowing they all have previous experience of working within early years settings where an outdoor garden is available to compare and contrast what measures, if any, are put into place to ensure that the children still have as many opportunities to go outside and explore the world as children is nurseries with outdoor space who can freely access the outdoors.

Initially, the data collection was just from parents and practitioners, but after looking at the different roles that work closely with numerous settings, it was decided that a Early Years Development Officer and a Learning and Development Officer would both be interviewed separately to gain their views on the importance of outdoor play and how they feel it impacts on the children’s development, if any. This would provide an effective comparison between the perceived views between a range of different people all working to care for the children. This would allow the researcher to compare and contrast to see if the responses complement each other, but also look for any connections. By doing so, further analysis and appraisal of the value of outdoor play will optimistically become more apparent.

Conducting the research investigation within an early years setting allowed the researcher to gain an understanding first hand from parents and practitioners whether or not they believed outdoor had any significant developmental affects on the children. Greig, Taylor and Mackey (2007, p.8) alleged that there is little point in belonging to a profession with such a sound research base is current research isn’t applied to our practice. It would be a waste of valuable research time if research was ignored and not acted upon. Therefore as a result of the research findings and completing the study, not only will it allow the researched to gain an insight into such a controversial subject but it will have a positive influence on the researchers work in the Early Years sector and help to improve the care, learning and development of the children therefore putting theory into practice.

Analysis and appraisal of the research data will also be hugely beneficial to the Early Years setting whom has agreed to take part in the research investigation as it will help to give a shared knowledge of their parents and practitioners understandings. This can then be analysed by the setting managers to see if there are any further steps which could be put into place to help both parents and practitioners when it comes to knowing the importance that outdoor play has on the children’s development.

The participants within the study were given the opportunity to evaluate their knowledge of outdoor play but also how they believe the setting corresponds with their beliefs and thoughts.

Section 1.1 Research Aims:-

In order to complete a successful research investigation, there are precise aims which need to be followed to ensure the key objective of the investigation is answered.

• To identify the perceived views of parents, carers and other childcare development professionals with regards to the importance and value of outdoor play for children.

• To summarise the perceptions of parents, practitioners and other childcare development professionals with regards to the importance of outdoor play in comparison to what is deemed ‘good practice’ from wider literature.

• To use the research findings to further the researchers knowledge about the importance of outdoor play but also how to transfer gained knowledge and understandings to parents and practitioners.

The key objective of this study therefore is to ‘research and identify how parents, practitioners and childcare development officers perceive the importance of outdoor play and its impact of the development of children.’

Section 2.0 – Literature Review

Historical background about outdoor play

The importance of allowing children to freely access outdoor space and providing endless opportunities is something which in recent years has become somewhat of a controversial subject matter. In previous years, children played outside with their friends and parents would not think twice, so why is there such a problem in the current society where parents are restricting what their children do with regards to outdoor play?

In a literature review about community play conducted two years ago by Josie Gleave, she investigated what has actually changed from previous years and why parents in the present day feel the need to limit their children’s freedom. Cited from Gleave (2010, P.21) ‘Barnes (2007) illustrates that some parents felt that children have less freedom now than they had done in the past and talked of the potential dangers their children could be exposed to in public space. There was general belief that young people who were out in the local area without an adult supervising them were causing trouble of some kind. In deprived areas, parents felt it was inappropriate for younger children to be out without an adult or at a later hour.’ Gleave goes on to back up her argument by stating ’45 per cent of parents believe that communities are worse for children now than when they were growing up. Only 17 per cent stating that it is better now and 20 per cent reported it was roughly the same.’ Furthermore, she states that ‘72 per cent of respondents aged 65 and over remembered knowing at least five of their neighbours well enough to engage with in conversation when they had a young family. Of today’s parents, more than a quarter knew less than two of their neighbours on this level.’ Therefore there is evidence of a general belief the community spirit has worsened over recent years which is having drastic effects on children

Reference list

Bilton H, (2010) Outdoor learning in the early years 3rd edition, Oxon, Routledge Ltd

Foundations of Playwork
Brown, Fraser Taylor, Chris
Pages: 342
Publisher: Open University Press
Location: Berkshire, GBR
Date Published: 2008

Community play: a literature review Josie Gleave (2010) play day

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