The Statutory Framework for the EYFS states that providers must provide access to an outdoor play area or, if that is not possible, ensure that outdoor activities are planned and taken on a daily basis. An outdoor area is just as important for young children's wellbeing and development as an indoor environment.
The outdoors enhances and extends on what you are able to provide a child indoors. By thinking how and why the outdoors could benefit a child, it then leads on to what to provide and how to plan for outdoor continuous provision.
If children are going to have continuous access to equipment outside, with limited adult input, it has to be structured around the child's development needs and be dressed to reflect their interests - thereby attracting the child to the equipment.
By understanding what skills need to be developed for the child you can then move on to consider what areas of your outdoor space need to be enhanced. You need to ensure outdoor play activities are just that, rather than indoor play taken outside. Make use of the space you have and ensure children are given the chance to explore activities they may not be able to achieve indoors.
How to plan for Outdoor Continuous Provision
Access and identify the needs of the children in your care
Outline clear goals for children's learning
Take into consideration individual child's needs
Reflect the need identified in the provision you offer
Link 'bridging skills' to indoor provision
Be clear and explicit about why you have put indoor provision outside (like a water tray with toys in it)
Be clear about how you are planning for development of outdoor skills
Enhance outdoor provision with indoor provision for added engagement and basic skill building.
Ensure that you work with your whole team when thinking about Continuous Provision and make sure everyone has an understanding of skill development in children and that the use of indoor provision in the outdoor environment can have a significant impact on a child's attainment.
Remember to always risk-assess any activities you are planning within your outdoor space
Using a Risk Management tool ensures risks can be identified, monitored and managed, whilst improvements can be made through learning from events, incidents, errors and near misses. It is also important you have the right insurance in place to carry out your planned activities. Always inform your insurance company of any changes to your setting whether it is outdoor play equipment or new activities for the children such as forest activities.