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Out to Play

Practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences in early learning and childcare

The Scottish Government knows the importance of the early years of life for a child’s development. That is why we have committed to expanding entitlement to funded early learning and childcare to 1140 hours/year by August 2020.

This expansion is rooted in delivering a high quality experience for our children and both our indoor and outdoor environments are key to that. We know the benefits outdoor play and learning can bring for young children in terms of their health and wellbeing, and physical and cognitive development. An important part of this is ensuring that our children have the daily, active outdoor play experience that we know is fundamental.

We recognise that one of the barriers to increased outdoor learning and play is a perceived difficulty in setting up or accessing an outdoor space. Within the Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland: Quality Action Plan we committed to help remove this barrier by producing this guide which supplies practical advice and support for Early Learning and Childcare settings and practitioners as well as the wider childcare sector.

This guide builds on a number of resources which promote outdoor learning within the education and childcare sectors. In 2016, the Care Inspectorate published the guidance My World Outdoors, which encourages further development of high quality outdoor play, and in 2017 Space to Grow was published as guidance for the Early Learning and Childcare 2020 expansion. This How to Guide complements these publications and also provides the important step-by-step, practical advice that we know will promote more use of the outdoors. As well as nursery settings, the guide is designed to be used by childminders, schools and out of school care settings who are looking to utilise local greenspace to enhance children’s learning.