Boost child development through outdoor learning

Outdoor learning at Farley Nursery School
“Excellent use of natural resources enhances children’s learning experiences” Ofsted Report

Children can develop better social, literacy and numeracy skills by being outside, as demonstrated at the Farley Nursery School.

Set in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, the private nursery has a unique ‘outdoor learning’ ethos, delivering the early years curriculum away from typical indoor comforts.

With over two acres of beautiful garden adjacent to the nursery, children can participate in a number of nature-learning activities throughout the year. Whether it is taking part in a nature hunt, learning a new song or investigating the capacity of a wheel barrow, the children are happy to learn on their next adventure.

The outside activities quickly encourage children to develop social skills. The obstacle course influences children of various ages to mix and show consideration for one another, while the freedom to participate in activities such as bike riding and running keeps them active throughout the day.

Their ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report highlighted that the ‘Excellent use of natural resources enhances children’s learning experiences’ and that ‘Children flourish in this exceptional learning environment’.

Sue Palmer, owner of Farley Nursery School, feels that children receive both mental and physical benefits to the outdoor learning concept.

“Children are happier outside and love to learn about nature. The children have a freedom of expression when they play outside that they just do not get inside.”

Ofsted Report: “Innovative areas are used for story telling”

In a risk adverse society, almost all parents visiting their nursery are immediately attracted to the wonderful scenery and outdoor learning concept. Despite the UK experiencing rain roughly once every three days, the children remain content on taking their learning outside all-year-round.

Farley Nursery School
“Children flourish in this exceptional learning environment” Ofsted Report

Risk-assessed inside and outside, the Farley Nursery was described by Ofstedin their report as having ‘a strong emphasis on ensuring children’s safety and security’. Areas such as the pond, are fenced off and controlled, and staff ratios are maintained meticulously at all times, with Abacus nursery management software playing a pivotal role in this.

There’s even a regular Norwegian fire in a controlled area, where children help cook snacks such as sausages and scones and sit around the fire.

The outdoor concept proves resilient and robust to the children’s health too. Children build up a resistance to illnesses such as colds and flu, keeping the numbers up all year round.

The Top Conkers group is for the 3-4 years olds soon to progress to primary school. To ease the transition to an indoor learning environment, nursery staff will spend time making them aware that they will predominantly be sitting down, listening to a teacher.

Last month Ofsted reported that four in ten schools, nurseries and childminders are failing to deliver a good enough standard of communication, language and literacy teaching for toddlers. However, in their report for Farley Nursery, they highlighted that “‘children thrive in this invigorating Nursery. They benefit significantly from the opportunity to spend the greater part of every day outdoors in the fresh air.”

Sue has almost 20 years experience working in the early years sector and embraced the Scandinavian principles that emphasise the health and learning benefits to outdoor learning.

“Everyone is so in awe of what we are doing. But it’s not rocket science. This is how childhood should be. Ninety per cent of their day is spent outdoors. Other schools are saying ‘We want to do what you’re doing’. What makes me cross is that other nurseries can do it but don’t.”

The Parenta team would like to congratulate the Farley Nursery on their excellent achievements and wish you all the best with the new nursery opening in Steeple Langford. More details of their Ofsted report can be found on the Farley Nursery website.

How much time do you reserve for outdoor play? What do you think of the idea of outdoor learning all year round? Drop your thoughts below.


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3 thoughts on “Boost child development through outdoor learning

  • March 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    We have a wonderful setting on a farm and have access to 33 acres. We grow our own fruit and vegetables and our children are involved in caring for our pigs, sheep, goat, mini ponies, chickens and much more. They help to feed them and know the correct way to do so and how much they should have! It helps them to respect the animals and then to respect each other. The children make graphs and charts and we watch birds and find all manner of living creatures in the woods! Our apparatus is the land and the woods and we can make as much noise as we choose! Our children benefit much more from the farm nursery as the curriculum is, of course, outside more than inside. Our children sleep well and eat well and parents report a better relationship with their child as behaviour, communication skills are heaps better due to the childrens’ time being utilised in a rewarding way that they are always busy or can have a theraputic day. which aids learning without even really trying! We are in East Sussex.

  • March 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    we are set in 53 acres of farm and sports grounds. Our setting is registered for children aged 3months to five years. All the children access this outside space daily and we find the children’s learning, especially the boys is thriving. if you would like to find out more please do not hesitate in contacting me. Tel 020 8574 2040

  • March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

    We have been established 21 years. Our site is based on a 10 acre small holding comprising garden, orchard, fields and woodland. Our children go out every day in all weathers and also look after the animals (goats, pigs, sheep, chicken, ducks, geese, rabbit, Guinea pigs and dogs). They have a fire pit, communicate with each other using home made steel drums and a gong, grow vegetables and flowers and make their own mud slides, seesaws, dragons etc.
    They have just made enough money through selling their eggs to buy a new house for their pigs, Snuffles and Cloughie.


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