The importance of outdoor play

Physical development and understanding the world are two of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Educational programmes. These two aspects of education can be fulfilled within a nursery settings garden/play area.

Play in a rich and stimulating outdoor environment can offer a number of benefits to young children, such as managing new situations and assessing risk. However, due to the changing society children lack regular opportunities of playing outdoors. A number of factors are to blame for this, including increased fear of children's safety, threat of abductions and the advances in technology.

A nursery garden can provide a child with the safety that is needed to explore and learn about the environment. Depending on your outdoor area, children can have the opportunity to explore, experiment and enjoy the space and freedom the outdoors gives.

Discovering wildlife

There are a number of different species that you will find in a garden, from tiny insects on the ground to birds making nests in the trees. Challenge your children to try and find all the animals and insects living in the nursery garden.

The Importance of Outdoor Play

Experiencing the seasons

A perfect way for any child to learn about the different seasons is to experience them for themselves. Use your nursery garden to show them the differences in the weather and the seasons. You can incorporate games into this; for example, a leaf hunt in autumn or shadow puppets in summer.

Outdoor Playhouse

Playhouses come in all different shapes and sizes and depending on a child's imagination can be a family home, a shop or even a castle! Playhouses are ideal for encouraging interaction and role-playing.

Grow Your Own Food

Have a vegetable patch in your nursery garden where the children can help to grow different vegetables. This can also work well with a flower bed where children can help to plant the seeds and water them to help them grow.

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Remember to always risk-assess any activities you are planning within your nursery garden. 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.

For more information about Towergate and our online risk management tool, BCARM, please contact us on 020 8336 0099 or via email at

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Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage

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