Children at Patna Early Childhood Centre celebrated Outdoor Classroom Day in grand style this week as they excitedly explored their new playground facilities.
The £85k works commenced in June this year, and include extensive external landscaping, to provide a more natural learning environment for the young people.
The new outdoor play courtyard has been transformed into a wonderful new resource and outdoor learning environment. Gone are the synthetic play surfaces and plastic play equipment and in their place is a natural play garden, filled with a soft green landscape, trees to celebrate the changing of the seasons and sensory features.
New design features include child friendly and small-scaled spaces, connected by a series of loop routes – great fun when you are 4 years old! Popular features include an interactive water feature and puddle pond, a Pergola shelter and activity area, little hills with a slide, play areas with sand and bark and play trees for climbing on.
All current research into play and learning suggest that children (and young children in particular) learn better in exploratory, sensory, naturalistic environments outdoors. The learning outcomes are better, the play value higher and this has positive outcomes for health and wellbeing as well. This approach is embedded in the Scottish Government ‘Curriculum for Excellence’. The Patna courtyard demonstrates how important the external spaces are to meeting some of these outcomes and the children are having a lot more fun playing in them!
With much more scope for outdoor learning and play outdoors, these works contribute to the Council’s overall preparations for the introduction of 1140 hours of early learning and childcare from August 2020. In addition to the increase in the number of hours available, parents and carers will also benefit from having greater choice in relation to the patterns of delivery Scottish Government’s Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland Action Plan
Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning, East Ayrshire Council attended and was accompanied by local member Councillor Elaine Dinwoodie.
After cutting a ribbon to celebrate the new facilities, Councillor Campbell said: “The transformation of this outdoor space is just fabulous! At this age, there’s so much to learn through play and it’s great to see the children getting fresh air while they play and explore the outdoors and learn about nature.
“Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.
“The enhanced outdoor learning environment at Patna Early Childhood Centre lends itself to giving these youngsters an opportunity to experience the very best possible start in life.”