Imitation Watching and imitating is a major way of learning for young children. We can teach young children through how we behave. Role modelling curiosity and enquiry will bring children’s attention to something interesting without needing to call them. Behave in a conﬁdent and careful way towards challenges to give children a positive approach to risk-taking. Value the outdoor environment, show this in planning creative activities and making it genuinely available. However, because of the sponge-like way young children absorb their surroundings, impressions haveThe importance of planning for play unconscious but lasting effects, includingYoung children are self-driven learners and are adult behaviour that give clues as to howconstantly curious and exploratory and discover through they feel about being outside today! For those childrenplay. Although they love adult attention and who prefer to be outdoors, the perception that adultsinteraction, they also want to follow their own ideas and do not really value it can damage their self-esteem.ﬁnd it hard to do what adults want them to for very Children of the same age and older children can belong. Children’s play is often based upon what they excellent tutors for play, communication and behaviour;know about or are interested in – making sense of so planning times when ages mix in outdoor play is wellexperiences they have had by playing with the ideas, worth consideration.often repeatedly. The experiences could be from homeor the setting. The best outdoor provision supplies Repetitionplenty of play opportunities. Plan for ample time for Young children like to repeat an activity that interestschildren to be able to process ideas at their own pace, them again and again, until it is fully understood ormaking the outdoors available every day for long mastered. They often like to return to something inperiods. This will have a beneﬁcial impact on children’s order to practice and reﬁne their ideas and skills, orlearning and development and reward your planning. simply to feel a sense of familiarity and competence. Plan for children to be able to go back to activities orSocial learning experiences over a long period of time, giving them theYoung children are very sociable and learn best by chance to work at their own pace and repeat as much asinteraction with other children and adults. By sharing necessary. Plan for long periods of time outdoors andinterest and talking about what they are seeing and for all weathers, so that children know they will be abledoing they build their thinking abilities and their to carry on the next day. Plan also for children to accessunderstanding of how the world works. Encourage resources themselves so that they can get involved inchildren to play and work outdoors with other children what they want to do without the need for adults to setand with adults. Give time for long interactions to occur, things up for them.supporting a ‘social co-construction’ of knowledge.Activities that genuinely interest practitioners will offer Making use of these suggestions and ideas in yourmany opportunities for sharing the focus (sustained setting will give you more time for the important tasksshared thinking) where both parties are genuinely of interacting, talking and supporting children’sinterested in something and ﬁnd out about it together. learning.Future issues of Curriculum Support will offer more detailed guidance for planning effective outdoor play.Suggested ReadingA Shared Vision for Outdoor Play poster in your Early Years The Potential of a Puddle Claire Warden , 2005,Outdoors pack. Mindstretchers, ISBN 0954488350. www.mindstretchers.co.ukSmart Moves: why learning is not all your headCarla Hannaford, 1995, Great Ocean Publishers, Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years,ISBN 0915556278. 2004, Research report No 356, DfES. www.dfes.gov.ukFirst hand experience: what matters to childrenD. Rich, D. Casanova, M.J. Drummond,A. Durrant and C. Myer, 2005,Rich Learning Opportunities, ISBN 0954968301.