Much has happened over the past decade in progressing the right of all young children to access play, and the learning that takes place through their play in the outdoors. We now have a broad consensus across the UK and at all levels from Government to practitioners and parents that outdoor play matters and that ‘outdoor learning’ is important – and increasingly, that this is as significant as indoor learning. Along the way, many settings have been exploring their approach to outdoor play and learning and several are pushing at the boundaries of what it really means to be in the outdoors, what kind of outdoor environment can be harnessed, such as woodlands and beaches and in what ways the outdoors can be used for the benefit of young children.
Opening up the outdoors builds on the remarkable success of Jan White and Liz Edwards’ previous Mud Play initiative, which aimed to deepen the understanding, importance, value and range of experiences from mud play. This larger initiative shares the vision and goal of more children thriving outdoors, more often and for longer, benefiting from richer and more meaningful environments offering authentic, rewarding and satisfying experiences through a long term, three cornered approach tackling the WHY, WHAT and HOW of really good outdoor play.