Northern Ireland schools urged to ‘take outdoor play seriously’

Schools in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to promote the importance to children of playing and learning through outdoors activity.

As pupils return to school after the summer break, Playboard NI, the lead organisation for the development of children and young people’s play in the province, has developed new materials to help schools with some of the vital ingredients for a happy, healthy childhood.

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of PlayBoard NI said: “Playing and learning outdoors has never been more important. As formal education begins again for our children and young people, we are advising schools that as a consideration of Education Restart, children spend more time outdoors.

‘Developing their sefl-confidence…’

“Evidence suggests that the transmission of Covid-19 is lower outside, and we know that time spent playing outdoors is of vital importance to children, boosting their physical and mental health, building their resilience, developing their self-confidence, and allowing them to let off steam.”

The organisation has teamed up with. the Department of Education’s Children and Young People’s Strategy team to develop a series of publications, which includes guides for teachers on establishing safe play areas – such as ‘play bubbles’ – advice on risk assessments, and how outdoor play works with the wider national teaching curriculum.

“The outdoor environment can offer a wealth of learning experiences, supporting the curriculum in many ways such as learning through discovery and investigation, developing creativity and language skills, as well as measuring, planning and negotiating skills,” added O’Loughlin.

Click here to access the new guides, and also more information about the work of Playboard NI.

Author: Simon Weedy

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