The team at The Mere Nursery, who work with children aged 0-2 have recently been focusing on the benefits of outdoor play with their children. We recognise that not only does this have a big impact on children’s understanding of the world around them but also on children’s physical development. Furthermore, we understand that opportunities for playing outdoors can support children’s early language and communication development as well as their emerging ability to listen with attention.
For a child, the first steps of being able to communicate include learning to differentiate between different sounds and movements. Babies primarily communicate using body language, for instance waving their arms when excited or happy. This step then leads to learning to listen and concentrate on the new sounds around them and eventually trying to recreate those sounds using their own voices and mouth movements.
After recently attending some training by Jan White, we strongly agree with her that moving the body is neurologically linked with using the voice. Also exploring outdoor areas and having more space to manoeuvre their bodies directly effects the communication development of a young child.
The Mere Nursery is set in a large natural and spacious environment which allows us to plan and deliver enriched learning opportunities which support various aspects of children development. Our nursery is able to access a large open cricket field which is an amazing space for children to explore new movement and find new, natural, interesting objects to promote physical development alongside language and communication skills.
Here is an example of how we use our natural environments to support children’s development.
We took the children from our baby and toddler age group on a ‘sound’ walk around the forest area. The older children were able to identify that they had heard aeroplanes, birds, the wind in the trees and rustling of the grass. We then developed this activity by encouraging children to move their bodies to interpret the sounds. Some of the children were moving like trees and making rustling sounds, others were waving like long whispering grass. It was a fantastic activity and one that we shall repeat regularly!
Our younger babies had a very different experience and used their primary senses of touch and hearing to explore the outdoors and used facial expressions and body movements to communicate their excitement and pleasure.