Month: July 2016

Outdoor learning

This story that states that “Outdoor learning boosts children’s development” came as no surprise to me last week in the news –

The children I look after all “come alive” when outside, my own 2 year old would spend all day, every day outside if he could!

I am continually reflecting on my outdoor provision. Currently I provide-

  • mark making materials – Easels, portable mini blackboards, chunky chalks, chalks, paints.
  • Sand and water, water wheels, measuring jugs, funnels, sieves.
  • Ride on Toys, balance bikes, toddlebike
  • Paddling pool, ball pit.
  • Gardening gloves and tools, wheelbarrows, watering cans and sprays
  • Bubbles, Gymnasts ribbon.
  • Bug Boxes, magnifying glass, giant tweezers
  • A slide, play tent, play tunnel
  • Balls of all sizes, toy golf clubs
  • Hopscotch mat
  • Loose parts such as different lengths of guttering

Added to this we have resources we like to take outside with us  – picnic blanket, books, music, dolls and cars.

I try to make my outside space as inviting and as an enabling space as the inside. I love watching the children play but learning and developing all the time without them knowing it, watching and forming relationships, solving problems, exploring science and maths concepts, exploring their senses, discovering the world and meeting physical milestones.

best classrooom quote

Teaching and play

When I first found out that OFSTED expect childminders to be teaching the children we look after, I was a bit alarmed! Like many childminders I felt uncomfortable and reluctant to consider myself a teacher because most of us don’t think ourselves as one. However when I thought about it further we are all teachers – parents, grandparents, childminders.


The document “Teaching and play in the early years – a balancing act” that OFSTED published last year says exactly this, that “everyone is an educator” and made me realise that every day I am “teaching” the children. It’s in everything we do –

‘Teaching is in every activity we provide. It is the summation of all that we do. There are no activities that occur in the setting which we do not consider to be opportunities for teaching. While we do not always know where these opportunities will present themselves, it is the skill of the adults that enable them to readily recognise the “teachable moments” when they arise and respond to them appropriately.  – Teaching and play in the early years – a balancing act?

As childminders we document the children learning through our ongoing observations and our assessments show they are making progress from their starting points. We teach them skills to make them independent, we teach them manners, we teach them to cooperate with one another, we teach them how to stay safe, we teach them how to count, we provide materials to encourage mark making, we lay on activities that help their fine motor skills, a pre cursor to learning to write, we are teaching all the time…