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Outdoor play is a comparatively new and growing area of interest for investigation in the area of early childhood care and education. As young children gradually spend more time indoors and engaged in inactive activities, researchers have come to realise the value which outdoor play holds for young children, and why exactly it is so important. This research has set out to discover what are the existing practices among Irish Children, in early years and after school in relation to their unstructured play in outdoor and natural environments, from the perspective of a parent, educator and the child.
Outdoor play is referred to as a constantly changing and open environment in which it is practicable to experience boisterous movement and natural elements contact. Therefore, from playing outside children are benefited from being exposed to the natural environment, sunlight and open-air which contributes to the development of their bones. Physical activity and the immune system of the children are also strengthened through outdoor play. Growth in the evidence regarding the significance of outdoor play does not tend to have an effect on the experience type to which children has access.
However, contrary to the expectations possibilities of outdoor play is diminishing due to the consequences of technological expansion and globalization.
Outdoor play is seen as a critical and valued experience for all children. It is not an optional extra, but an essential factor of a child’s everyday life and environment. Nonetheless, the literature consistently demonstrates that children today participate less in outdoor nature play in comparison to their parents’ generation.
It is important that the outdoor environment is planned and designed in a manner that can support inclusion and help in meeting the various needs of the individuals. In Ireland, schools and other social settings offer various play experiences. Two of the main approaches that are followed in early years education are the Reggio-Emilia approach and the Montessori approach. The Reggio-Emilia approach considers the environment to be the third teacher and thus, the outdoor play environment plays a significant role in this particular approach of teaching. Blakeand Sexton (2017) has stated that an ideal outdoor play environment needs to support inclusion that could meet the different needs of various people.
The changes within the present society are affecting the experiences of childhood. The significance of the healthy development of children is grounded in the strong analogy of outdoor play. In context to compelling and natural activity, play promotes physical, social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing for the children thriving on the presentation of the learning and development environment for children. The process of play provides an advantage to the child towards experimentation, problem-solving, creative thinking and cooperation with others. The children through the assistive of outdoor play gain a deeper knowledge of themselves and about the world.
Autistic children face significant challenges in dealing with their everyday environment. It is important to have an outdoor play environment that can involve children having autism. Ghazaliet al. (2018) have stated that in early childhood development, outdoor play is significant and it facilitates understanding sensory experiences. In terms of including autistic children in the outdoor play, setting it is important to consider the sensory differences in autism. Baronet al. (2017) have identified that most autistic children have sensory issues and it can affect one or more than one sense. It is possible for autistic children to be hypersensitive or hypersensitive. Due to such differences, the environmental experience can be challenging for children with autism. Morrier and Ziegler (2018) have identified that autistic children are vulnerable to anxiety or physical pain from certain background sounds that are easily avoided by others.
The UN convention of the rights of the child is considered as the international treaty that can easily set out the accepted rights for the children who can spend effective time by playing in the outdoor environment that can easily bring the comprehensive and effective code of the benefits and protection for different children. The convention affirms effective human rights contained in different treaties, which can be clearly applied to different children. Based on the view of Quennerstedt et al. (2018), this article can easily incorporate different critical thinking concerning the rights of the children by understanding the children’s rights by knowing the position of the children by understanding the position as the development of the types of the outdoor play of the children.
Primary theories of outdoor play
The relevant theories that are applicable to the demonstration of the importance of outdoor play in Ireland comprise of the following:
Erickson psychosocial development theory
This theory is related to the establishment of the preceding phases and the paves the pathway for the net period of development. The relativity of this theory is associated with the impact of the social experiences on the life span of the children. Social development of the children is based on their exposure to the outside environment.
Piaget’s cognitive development theory:
The children mainly play an effective role in the learning process by participating in different experiments, making various observations and learning about the world. By spending effective time in leisure and recreational activities, the kids can interact with their peers; they can get enough information about the world by engaging in different learning activities. As a result, while interacting with the world, they can learn new knowledge by building upon existing knowledge; therefore, the children can easily adopt the previously known ideas to gather new information. Based on the view of McLeod, (2018), the intelligence can be grown and developed through following different series of stages. By involving in different leisure activities and outdoor play, the younger children can think effectively to focus on different operations.
In this stage, the children can easily learn about the basic needed actions including the grasping, looking and listening and the infants mainly learn to identify different things that continue to happen even these cannot be easily seen. Along with that, they can easily realize different actions that can cause different things to happen in the world around them.
In this stage, the children generally start to think and can learn from different people during different recreational activities. They are getting effective with other’s language and thinking, while they tend to think about different things in different and concrete terms.
Concrete operational stage:
In this stage, the children generally start to think about different events logically by understanding the concepts of the conversations of others during leisure activities.
Formal operational stage:
In this stage, the children began to think logically about the issues during their activities by following the abstract reasoning.
As per the perspectives of Cooke (2017), outdoor play is the nature of ascertaining that the children obtain the skills that they require to evolve. Outdoor play allows the children to expresses openly as there are no space constraints like the indoor environment. Children learn to attempt to exercise activities and get a hold of fresh air.
The major limitation of the discussion is cantered on insignificant elaborations on the distraction of the children. Moreover, indoor activities have surpassed the significance of outdoor activities in this digital era. Movement of the Ireland authorities towards the withstanding of this barrier has not been elaborately discussed in the literature review. Moreover, in this fast-paced world children do not get a significant opportunity of outdoor play due to the burden of different types of activities at the tender age.