What are the benefits of outdoor play in the Early Years?

Outdoor play is now more important than ever for a child’s early development. These days, children spend a lot of time in front of screens, but a sedentary lifestyle can have a detrimental effect on a child’s well-being. Taking the children outside to learn through play provides a much-needed break from devices and allows them to connect with nature.

Being outdoors promotes cooperative play, which is essential for a child’s development. Cooperative play helps children develop the skills they’ll need later to collaborate and cooperate at school and in other social settings, like sports.

The Benefits of Outdoor Play in early years

More benefits of outdoor play in the early years 

A stimulating outdoor environment makes for healthier, happier children. Outdoor activities can help to boost a child’s mood and cognitive development. When a child is happy, they will learn ‘Happy pupils perform better in school and life’ Tes Magazine.

How do nannies help with outdoor learning? 

Being outdoors allows children to open their minds to different ways of learning. Nannies will facilitate the child’s education by integrating art and maths into various activities. The children will be creating and problem-solving without even realising it!

The benefits of outdoor play in the early years – learning about the seasons

A great way to help children learn about the world around them is to learn about the different seasons; to facilitate this, we will set up a selection of activities for the children to allow them to use their imagination and critical thinking skills. 

We will supply the children with the tools and materials they need to open up their minds to learning. 


A spring garden project will allow them to plant to support a garden that attracts bugs and grows vegetables. The children will learn about the different plants, bugs and taste-test their vegetables once fully grown.


For the summer, we might create an outdoor beach for the children to play in; activities could include – sea shell spotting, an ice cream stall, some beach art, collecting pebbles, and even a beach clean-up. Another super fun summer activity is freezing toys with food colouring/glitter. It’s then the children’s task to break the ice. Plenty of summer fun!


During autumn, we may ask the children to collect outdoor materials using cardboard and double-sided tape; after collecting a selection of leaves, flowers and pinecones, the children will go inside to discuss their findings and create a collage. 


Wintertime can be pretty muddy, which the children love! This also presents an excellent opportunity for the children to create mud pies!

Another wonderful winter activity is bird feeding. It’s a great way to get the children outside for some fresh air despite the cold, where they can have fun and learn a little bit about nature. We added a bird table to our outdoor space last Christmas and it was a hit with the children! They loved watching the birds, caring for them and filling the table with food each day.

Some other fantastic activities for all seasons include scavenger hunts, obstacle courses and nature walks.

The benefits of outdoor play in the early years – it promotes physical activity and improves mental health.

An increasing amount of evidence shows that being in contact with nature benefits a child’s physical and mental health.

Evidence today reveals children tend to swap active outdoor play for sedentary activities, often to the detriment of their health and quality of life. 

When playing outdoors, children have fun and benefit from running and chasing, which can develop good physical fitness, agility and stamina. This also helps to combat childhood obesity. Nannies encourage this by creating games and activities for everyone to get involved in. 

The benefits of outdoor play in the early years – spending time outdoors

Spending time outside allows children to develop their fine motor skills. Children who spend their time playing outdoors are more likely to challenge their muscles, bones and physical endurance. The outdoor space allows children to crawl under bushes, climb trees and ride bikes. Doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising or spending time in green spaces and being around animals can have plenty of positive effects – including a mood boost. More fantastic benefits of outdoor play in the early years!

Connecting with nature

An increasing amount of evidence shows that being in contact with nature benefits a child’s physical and mental health.

A few ways we help to nurture a love of nature and help children become more mindful are:

•Hide and seek in the bushes and trees.

•Forage for craft materials

•Go bird watching – grab your binoculars and look up at the sky

•Look for insects and identify them

•Ask the children to look around and notice any changes in the environment – share them with the children.

•Visit a farm

What does the EYFS say about outdoor learning?

The EYFS states children learn best through practical experience using all their senses. It allows the children to participate in real-world learning opportunities, better retention of information and problem-solving.

Children act differently outside; therefore, observing both inside and outside the classroom is better when assessing the children’s development.

Healthy body and brain – spending time outdoors allows children access to fresh air, vitamin D, extra space to develop and grow, and an opportunity to practice mindfulness.

What did Dr Maria Montessori say about the benefits of outdoor play in the early years?

Dr Maria Montessori herself fully understood the important role of nature and outdoor play on a child’s healthy development.

“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature; to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and beauty in nature.”

Maria Montessori felt so enthusiastic about the power of the natural learning environment that she allowed children always to access the outdoors. She believed there would be no separation between the indoor and outdoor classroom.