There is mounting evidence that children who regularly play outdoors, especially in nature, are smarter, happier and healthier. This comes as no surprise to staff and parents of Wee Wild Sparks Outdoor Nursery in Coupar Angus, Perthshire.
At Wee Wild Sparks children spend the entire day out in the woods, come rain or shine. Guided by their curiosity “Wee Sparks” are given as long as they need to build, dig, explore, climb, observe and investigate the natural features of their ‘classroom’.
“The forest provides everything children need to learn in all areas of their development,” says Jo Andrews, Nursery teacher. “Through a mix of free play and adult-led activities children develop physically, emotionally, socially and academically.”
These holistic and cross curricular benefits are acknowledged by Scottish Government research, which reports:
“simply being outside in fresh air is beneficial, but when children are helped to actively explore nature for themselves the dividends for improving outcomes are exponential.”
Wee Wild Sparks is one of 23 (and counting) outdoor nurseries in Scotland. MSP for Childcare and Early Years, Maree Todd, announced recently that over £860,000 is being set aside to encourage more settings to offer regular outdoor learning experiences.
Wee Wild Sparks Co-Founder Alice Warren is delighted to be part of this movement. “People are starting to realise this isn’t just about making mud pies, but that nature play is a critical component of early childhood that deserves investment.”
At Wee Wild Sparks children have plenty of opportunities to practice writing with charcoal, learn songs and rhymes, count and measure sticks for the fire or work together to build dens and dam streams. Through these activities children meet their core numeracy, literacy and health and well-being outcomes in fun and meaningful ways.
“My daughter loves going to Wee Wild Sparks and has come on leaps and bounds in just one term. I’m amazed at the breadth of learning that takes places just through playing in the woods” Says Jonathan Agnew, Dad of 3 year old Nancy.
Jo and Alice invite curious families to visit the nursery to see first hand how nature play supports children’s learning and development. Taster sessions are being held on various Tuesdays throughout autumn term; head on over to meet the team, explore the site and enjoy a few of the favourite stories and songs.
Wee Wild Sparks Outdoor Nursery has vacancies for 3–7 year olds on Mondays (currently) and Thursdays (in early 2019). The setting is working towards Partnership Provision with the Local Authority, meaning that families will soon be able to access part-funded places.
Join Wee Wild Sparks for a free taster from 9.30-11.30am on Tuesday 11th and 25th September, 23rd October, 6th November & 20th November, 2018.