In this edition of the LINC blog we examine the importance of creating challenging outdoor environments for children.

Outdoor environments in Irish Early Childhood Settings have up until very recently relied heavily on creating a safe place to play; but in turn they have lost creativity, sensory and explorative opportunities, which are so important in meeting the needs of all children including those with additional needs.

According to Donohoe and Gaynor (2007):

‘Outdoor play spaces are often thought of as a place where children can go and let off steam, but outdoor play space is that and so much more. Children’s developmental needs do not change because they are outdoors, a child may enjoy running around freely for a short period of time, but the outdoor space should hold special interest too; and the time spent there should offer variety, stimulation and opportunities to explore as well as fresh air and exercise. For this reason most of the criteria for planning indoor space will also apply outdoors.’

(Donohoe and Gaynor 2007)

Click on the link below to watch a video from the Aistear Siolta practice guide on creating challenging outdoor environments for children aged 3-6 years.



For guidelines on how to make your space more inclusive see the recently published Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings here: https://aim.gov.ie/universal-design-guidelines-for-elc-settings/



Donohoe and Gaynor (2007) Education and Care in the Early Years: An Irish Perspective, 3rd edition. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.


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