What is wellbeing? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy. It is something that we all strive for and a child’s level of wellbeing is thought to be intrinsically linked to their levels of involvement and motivation to learn. The question is… How can we instil wellbeing in the minds of our youngest so that they can flourish in life?

It has been long documented that outdoor learning is crucial for children to make sense of the world and grasp basic concepts of science. However, it is also considered vital in providing a sense of ‘wellness’ and balance. Being physically active not only supports physical health, brain development and social skills, but also improves emotional wellbeing and self-esteem. Outdoor play provides freedom for children, it removes the need for ‘indoor voices’ and helps the body to produce vitamin D which is not only good for our bones, but is also thought to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

At Little Knellies we use our outdoor space daily, both for PE lessons and general play. Our garden is large and extensive, allowing children the space to choose where they would like to play, free from any stereotypical gender bias. The children particularly enjoy our gravel play area, where they can test ideas as they fill buckets, experiment with guttering and problem solve. Our allotment area is another favourite, where children help to plant, care for and harvest vegetables throughout the year. The wisteria arch is a beautiful sight in Spring! For those who seek to be more active, we have a large play area, including an adventure playground, where children can ride bikes, climb and push their limits as they practise jumping from different equipment onto soft astroturf.

The outdoors also allows for opportunities of quiet time and relaxation, away from screens and the business of modern day living. Making time to simply ‘be’ in time and space, without a set agenda, can help children find peace and calm. Mindful moments, such as lying down in the garden and registering what you can see, hear, smell and touch is a great way to reconnect with nature and restore a sense of calm. Why not try it for yourself? You and your child might choose to visit a park on a sunny day, noting 5 things that you hear and smell when you close your eyes. Alternatively, you might choose to step outside on a rainy day and notice the rhythmic pitter patter of rain on the umbrella. The outdoors is truly magical!

By Sally Kellow