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Young children, the outdoors and nature
Young children, the outdoors and nature

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Session 4: Challenges, risks and opportunities


Imagine you want to take a group of children from a baby room outdoors for the morning. All the children are aged under 18 months. Some are confident walkers, others still finding their feet. Some are able to navigate transitions from one space to another smoothly, others approach them with more uncertainty. None are yet fully capable of putting on coats, wellies, sun cream or puddle suits (though they can manage a hat) and a few fiercely resist adults’ attempts to assist them. These are just some of the challenges practitioners may face, before the children have even reached the door to the outside space. Once the children are outside, the difficulties continue – can you think of what some of these might be? Figure 1 illustrates some of the challenges that practitioners can encounter once the children reach the outside space: the environment may lead to children getting wet, muddy, or cold; adverse weather may make time outdoors seem unappealing. Meanwhile, unsuitable clothing may cause children discomfort and getting changed may cause distress.

A toddler playing in the rain.
Figure 1 A toddler walking in a puddle.

This all may seem quite a negative picture. However, in this session you are not only going to consider some of these challenges, but you are also going to look at how imaginative practitioners overcome them. Before you go any further, listen to the following audio in which Polly Bolshaw, Session 4 author, introduces the content.

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By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • identify the challenges when considering opportunities for babies and toddlers to engage with the outdoors
  • outline risks such as problematic weather and health and safety issues
  • describe some of the ways to overcome those challenges and risks.