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Outdoor play and learning was given a boost when Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney officially launched the Welly Wanderers outdoor nursery in Glasgow’s Castlemilk woods on World Children’s Day, 20 November 2017.
The Welly Wanderers is one of three outdoor nurseries being established in Glasgow under a partnership between Glasgow City Council and Inspiring Scotland and willÂ allow almost 400 local children to play, learn and have great fun outdoors in theÂ in the Castlemilk area.
Research shows playing and learning outside in the natural environment helps to improve children’s health and well-being and aids their emotional and cognitive development. The outdoor nurseries also contribute to creating more childcare spaces ahead of the Scottish Governmentâ€™s expansion to 1140 hours of funded early learning and childcare by 2020.
The outdoor nurseries partnership is an excellent opportunity to improve the childrenâ€™s health and well-being as well as helping to close the attainment gap from an early age.
Mr. Swinney said: â€śWe are committed to doing all we can to make Scotland the best place for children to grow up. High quality early learning and childcare will play a vital role in making this ambition a reality, which is why this government has gone further than any other in our commitment to expanding funded early learning and childcare.
â€śThe Welly Wanderers is a brilliant example of the kind of innovative and exciting approach we need to enhance early years development, help nurture a passion for the outdoors and STEM at a young age and help close the attainment gap between children from the least and most deprived communities.
â€śWe already know that learning outdoors has significant benefits for children in terms of their health and wellbeing. But it is just as important, as was clear from my visit today, that the children definitely find their time exploring outdoors and learning through play great fun.â€ť
Currently, children in Scotland are not physically active enough which is having serious implications for their health and well-being. Children as young as six-years-old now spend an average of three hours a day sedentary on front of a screen â€“ the average for all primary-aged children is 8 hours per day.
Through the programme, children from eight local nurseries will have one day per week where their nursery class is held outside â€“ regardless of weather â€“ in the Castlemilk woodland. As well as the benefits to health and well-being and learning, playing and exploring outdoors will help children to engage with the nature and become the environmental custodians of the future.Â The partnership’s other outdoor nurseries are being established in Drumchapel and the east end.
Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland said: â€śWe firmly believe in the power and potential of outdoor play to improve learning for all our children, helping to close the attainment gap, address inequality and reduce long-term health issues.
â€śWe are delighted to be working in partnership with Glasgow City Council to make outdoor play an intrinsic part of the provision of Glasgowâ€™s Early Learning and Childcare.â€ť
Glasgow City Councillor Chris Cunningham, Education, Skills & Early Years City Convener explains: â€śThere is a growing body of research that shows that childrenâ€™s exposure to nature and active outdoor play improves physical and mental well-being and can help children to develop emotionally and improve learning.
â€śOur aim is for outdoor nurseries to become a central part of our childcare provision and there are already plans in place to expand the programme to other areas of Glasgow.
â€śFor many years in Glasgow we have put a strong emphasis on taking the classroom outdoors and know that the children and staff greatly benefit. â€ť
The Jeely Piece, which runs the Jeely Piece Nursery in Castlemilk and regularly utilises the woods for outdoor play, is one of the nurseries taking part in the programme.
Tracey Black, Director at Jeely Piece Club, said: â€śThe outdoor nurseryÂ is an amazing adventure for children in their early years and we are delighted to be a part of this initiative giving more children the opportunity to play in the fantastic Castlemilk woodlands.
â€śWe know that children are not put off by the weather and absolutely love spending time outdoors in the woods.Â The outdoor nursery creates a fun and exciting learning environment on a daily basis.â€ť
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