Nursery tots think it’s great outdoors

Teacher Laura Wigham encourages her pupils at Boldon Nursery school, Ethan Black, Kerys Russell, Meagan Muir and Jack Connolly to explore the great outdoors as part of their education and development.
Teacher Laura Wigham encourages her pupils at Boldon Nursery school, Ethan Black, Kerys Russell, Meagan Muir and Jack Connolly to explore the great outdoors as part of their education and development.
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FROM climbing trees to lighting campfires, these children have no fear of the great outdoors.

Boldon Nursery is one school which is already putting into practice calls to give youngsters the chance to experience outside fun.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, head of the National Trust, has warned that children are being denied the enjoyment of the outdoors and nature with consequences to their health and wellbeing.

She said the freedom of youngsters to roam unsupervised had shrunk massively since the 1970s and blamed nervousness and technology, adding that the creep of urban sprawl had destroyed safe places to play.

Dame Fiona also called for children to be taught outside on a weekly basis.

For youngsters at Boldon Nursery School, which was last year dubbed outstanding by Ofsted inspectors, outdoor fun is a huge part of the curriculum.

Headteacher Sue Stokoe, said: “Every Tuesday the children go to a local space called The Burn for their forest school session, where they learn to climb trees safely, make dens in the woods, light a fire and many other things.

“The children walk there and back and we go both mornings and afternoons. Our priority is teaching the children about the risks they may encounter, how to manage the risks and to enjoy being out of doors in all weathers.”

And, when they are not at The Burn, the children enjoy playing in the grounds of the Reginald Street school every day, with great outdoor facilities to explore and enjoy.

And the weather doesn’t stop them – if it’s raining they just put on their wetsuits and wellies.

But Dame Fiona fears other children are not so lucky as these Boldon Colliery pupils, saying: “Children are missing out on the sheer joy and physical and mental wellbeing of being able to play outside and experience nature in all its messiness.

“The world is a different place and people have become very anxious about the risks - real or perceived.”

She said the trust believes the cloistered upbringing of children can be harmful and they need to take risks and that it was wrong to apply health and safety culture to the countryside.

She said: “It’s a matter of knowing where the risks are but not trying to wipe them away.”

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Top outdoor adventure books for children when they are indoors

•The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame (Ages 9 to 12)

With its magical fairy-like illustrations by Arthur Rackham, the tale of animals having adventures in nature is today as compelling as ever.

•I’m in Charge of Celebrations, by Byrd Baylor (Ages 4 to 8)

The narrator of this book invents unique celebrations based on significant experiences with the natural world.

•Barbapapa’s Ark, by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor (Ages 4 to 8)

Barbapapa and his family of multicolored, shape-changing blobs help the world’s animals escape from the pollution, habitat destruction and cruelty of humans by building a space-ark and leaving Earth.

•Watership Down, by Richard Adams (Ages 12 and older)

The adventures of a rabbit community under threat from humans and bulldozers.

•The Famous Five by Enid Blyton (Ages 4 and up)

The famous adventure series which still enthralls children today.