outstanding outdoor spaces

Helping children to prepare for school with outdoor play (2)

26 August 2017

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September will soon be upon us, and that means lots of little children will be starting big school. We all know how scary first days can be, and we want to help children feel happy and prepared before ‘moving up.’ In our last blog we gave you five key areas that children often struggle with once they start primary school, and how their Early Years setting can help. Here’s five more areas where outdoor play can help children to feel confident about the big change. 

1. Routines 


One of the biggest worries that parents have about their children starting school is the routine that comes along with it. It’s all a matter of habit, so scheduled outdoor play can be a great way of breaking up the day and helping little children understand that different things happen at certain times. A good way of getting children used to routine is to use different equipment that builds specific skills at scheduled times, like literacy in the morning and numeracy in the afternoon. Why not try some of our loose play equipment, like our cork dominoes which get children familiar with counting, or our freestyle mark making set for practicing letters. 

2. Independence 

Our huge variety of outdoor play equipment means that young children are able to choose what interests them, which helps them develop confidence in decision making. It’s also a great way of getting little children to try things that they might not have done before, which nurtures their creativity and imagination. Getting outdoors also provides that extra bit of space between them and their parents, and helps children to step outside of their comfort zone – which is something they’ll need when they go away to big school. Why not try our wobble log, which provides active fun whilst helping little children to assess risk in a safe environment. 

3. Eating 

A lot of children still struggle with meal times once they arrive at big school, because they haven’t learnt how to use a knife and fork or to open things for themselves. Children love our mud kitchen, which encourages them to think about food whilst nurturing their imaginations.

4. Working with parents


A recent survey of PACEY found that parents tend to be more anxious about children starting school than they are, particularly about bullying. Children are more likely to engage with each other in an outdoor which is stimulating and imaginative, rather than indoors where there’s more of an opportunity for solitary play. Developing communication skills among children can help to reduce bullying, so parents can put their minds at rest when their little ones are at school.  Our cork city construction set is great for teaching children sharing and how to create things together. 

5. Self care 

Starting school is a big part of a child learning to look after themselves, like washing their own hands, wiping their nose or knowing to ask for help if they don’t feel well. By nurturing their self-confidence with outdoor play, children are more likely to feel able to help themselves when they can and ask when they can’t. Children are also bound to get a bit mucky playing outdoors, so it’s the perfect time to start showing them how to wash off any dirt. Try our outdoor sinks for messy little hands.  

Here at Playforce we have over 20 years’ experience in advising Early Years settings on their outdoor space, as well as designing some award-winning products and ranges.  You can get some inspiration from our Early Years case studies here, or browse our full ‘ready to play’ range… did you know that you can still get delivery of products in this range over the summer holidays?  If you’d like a bit more advice, why not get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and help get your children active, learning and playing outdoors. 


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