Monday, 20 August 2012

Lets encourage children to play outside

BBC south today and the Bournemouth Echo have reported the most bizarre news story. A Dorset Montessori Pre-school has been banned by their council, and a government inquiry, from allowing the children to play or learn outside for more than 2 hours a day. I was gob-smacked and wanted to know what it was all about; here's what I found.

- the preschool nursery is in a converted house in a residential area
- the local residents have complained about the noise nuisance that the children create
- the preschool obtained funding and permissions to build an outdoor classroom
- the preschool would like to have learning opportunities outside in small groups; the free-play time wouldn't increase
- the majority of commenters on both the newspaper and news websites feel that the preschool should have the children inside

What is society coming to?
People used to be pleased to see kids outside and revelled in the sheer joy of childhood.

Since when was the noise of children playing a nuisance?
It always brings a smile to my face; it's the sound of hope and life and happiness.

Why aren't we encouraging children to play outside?
Society likes to critics parents for relying on the TV and computer games to entertain their kids; yet when kids do play outside its too noisy. This is not going to encourage parents to change things.

Is it a mere matter of time until we are chastised by our neighbours for the noise of kids playing in our own gardens?
This summer Rachel has played in the garden at least three hours each day; and sometimes we've been outside all day. It's not been overly noisy but it's been effervescent and energetic with sounds produced. That's the sound of family fun. I hope the neighbours like it. I like to hear their families, especially when they're with Rachel.

Let's encourage children to play outside; at home, at nursery, at preschool and at school; it's good for them and great for society to see that kids matter.

I have to end it there; Rachel wants to play out on her bike.

1 comment:

rightfromthestart said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I work as an early education consultant and we advise our nurseries to create outdoor classrooms that run in paralell to the indoor classroom. In simple terms this would mean that children could learn similar things but in a variety of ways. Children do not all learn in the same way and Boys in particular need to learn things in a kinesthetic manner, not always possible indoors.

If I were the owner I would appeal to the council on the grounds that she is no longer able to provide the best education for her children outlining the benefits of outdoor play. I would also appeal on the grounds that it discriminates against boys and some children with behavioural issues who need physical activity. Copy in the early years advisory team who should back her up - we certainly would try really hard yo overturn this decision in.our authority.

I assume that if the neighbours are home during nursery hours then they are elderly. Appeal to their better nature by asking them to remember their own childhoods when most of their play would have been outdoors. Maybe invite them into the nursery to see for themselves what happens or ask them to become involved.