Outdoor play is a key ingredient to build resilience in children
‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’ - Albert Einstein
What is resilience and why is it important?
Resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to ‘bounce back’ from adversity or difficulties, or as others may call it, your ‘character’. It is a skill we hope to have when it is called upon and a skill that we should strive to teach children.
By developing resilience in children, they can learn that mistakes and challenges don’t define them and that they can try again and improve.
It is a skill that can be taught and is not inherited, which provides educational settings with a unique opportunity to model and support children in building this fundamental life skill. Where better to explore resilience, than in an inspiring outdoor space!
The positive benefits of developing resilience outdoors
‘Through play, children are constructing an identity – who they are, what they know and what their joys and fears are.’ (Ebbeck and Waniganayake, 2016)
Keeping children active not only increases physical fitness, it also increases resilience and strengthens the brain.
Research has proven that regular exercise now provides comparable results to that of medication when treating mild to moderate mental health problems, providing our ‘fight or flight’ response an ability to recover more efficiently.
Outdoor play significantly contributes to developing resilience and encourages children (and adults) to build self-belief and self-control whilst also creating social support in a natural and neutral environment.
Being outdoors also provides children with a deeper connection to their surroundings and enhances compassion to those that share it with them.
How outdoor play encourages resilience in children
Building resilience is a process and the foundations come from relationships. In an outdoor space, children have the opportunity to take healthy risks and establish a purpose, which in turn, allows them to gain perspective.
Children need support, nurture and a positive role model to lead by example and to encourage them to persevere when they reach the point of giving up or to support them when they don’t gain the desired outcome.
Outdoor play provides children with a sense of belonging, alongside the freedom to be adventurous or to seek a solitary and calming space.
Within outdoor spaces, group activities are great!
Our Grizedale Forest Circuit allows an entire class to access the circuit at once. This motivates team work, turn taking and also encourages positive communication and social support. Teachers can join in too!
Alternatively, a quiet space such as our Outdoor Gazebos encourages children to sit or lie down and to engage with the sounds and senses of their surroundings. Studies have shown that giving children time to be quiet and still has a positive impact on calming their ‘fight or flight’ response to fear.
Teaching children the simple technique of breathing and mindfulness enables children to approach difficult situations with a more positive mind-set, which can be transferred into improving concentration and attention.
Pentagon Play have been working with primary schools and nurseries for over 20 years and are experts when it comes to developing educational outdoor learning environments for children. If you'd like to improve your outdoor play space with innovative play equipment focused on the curriculum, please Contact Us.