IN our experience some parents can be hesitant when they first hear about our woodland kindergarten due to the children being outdoors in all weather and the perception that being outside is risky.

We work hard to share the benefits of outdoor play and explain to parents why managed risk is so important.

Allowing children to engage in risky play, such as climbing, running, sliding and balancing on logs, gives them the opportunity to access risks and learn how to manage risk for themselves.

The process of a child attempting to climb a tree stump, to slip off and try again provides them with motivation to try again and to problem solve to find an alternative method.

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Allowing children to be exposed to managed risk therefore provides fun and challenge and will lead to the development of important life skills such as motivation, confidence, independence, problem solving and resilience.

We feel strongly the outdoor environment is best to promote this, with the freedom of space, natural risk and obstacles and stimulating, ever-changing environment.

I have fond memories of playing outside as a child, in particular for long periods of time with minimal adult intervention and direction.

My parents allowed me to explore freely in the garden, back lane and beyond without the need for planned activities and gadgets.

We had dens and hide-outs and established our own clubs and games. We got muddy and only came home when we were hungry.

We are trying to replicate some of that experience and children at the kindergarten spend most of the day playing outdoors in woodland where they can set up a camp and shelters if the weather requires it.

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Sometimes the attitudes of parents rub off on their children and we find a few children who come to us are initially nervous.

We have had the experience of one child arriving with a bottle of hand gel in their pocket and regularly applying it because of a fear that their parents have that being dirty is somehow unhealthy.

It is important to educate children and parents that it is good for them to play in an environment with ‘clean dirt’ as children are then exposed to good bacteria.

Children can play safely in woodland with natural resources such as mud, leaves, sticks and the kindergarten team ensures that all the children wash their hands carefully before eating.

The increase in technology in society is not a bad thing, but the increase in ‘screen time’ is encroaching on the time children would previously have engaged in free, imaginative play and outdoors.

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Compared to 30 or 40 years ago children’s lives have become a lot more structured which means there is less time to play using their imaginations. We feel there should be a lot more free play in early childhood after all that is how young children learn.

Alison Latta is a founder of the Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten in Glasgow’s Pollock Park