Outdoor Play And Learning 2017-2018
Welcome to OPAL!
OPAL is our ‘short cut’ way of saying ‘Outdoor Play and Learning’.
Many of our most enjoyable childhood memories involve outdoor play simply because it is so interesting, absorbing, care-free and fun!
Whenever we ask the children what they’ve enjoyed most whilst learning, their memories often involve outside play. Play that has kept them engaged and generated lots of fun!
Outdoor play and learning is also promoted on trips to outdoor venues like Bristol Zoo, Westonbirt Arboretum, Bristol Harbour side and Payton Farm.
The Importance and Value of Play
Play is so important, that the United Nations have recognised it as a specific right for all children, ‘Children need the freedom to explore and play’.
At St. Stephen’s we value play as it paves the way for learning and nourishes every aspect of a child’s development.– it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in life.
We understand that play allows a child’s brain to achieve it’s optimal development by presenting it with opportunities to make important links and build connections. We are aware that the early years of a child’s development from birth to age six, sets the basis for learning, behaviour, and health throughout life.
We know that children have a natural curiosity, so play is a great way of letting them actively explore and make sense of their world.
Outdoor play and learning happens while children pond-dip, build a den together, swing across monkey bars or play make-believe.
During the experiences of play, children are learning to try new things, solve problems, express themselves, invent, imagine, create, question, test ideas, take risks and explore.
Play is also time spent building new knowledge from previous experience.
Through make-believe games children can be anyone they wish and go anywhere they want.
When they engage in ‘life-imitation play’, they learn how to cope with feelings, how to bring the large, confusing world into a small, manageable size; and how to become socially adept as they share, take turns and cooperate with each other.
When children play, they are learning empathy, co-operation, another’s perspective and how to be flexible.
Researcher Charles E. Pascel, put it so well when he said,
"Play is serious business for the development of young learners. A deliberate and effective play-based approach supports young children’s development. When well designed, such an approach taps into children’s individual interests, draws out their emerging capacities, and responds to their sense of inquiry and exploration of the world around them. It generates highly motivated children enjoying an environment where the learning outcomes of a curriculum are more likely to be achieved”.