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Why Outdoor Play is Key to Early Childhood Education

Playing outdoors at childcare centre

Have you ever noticed that kids seem to be in their element when outdoors, happily running around despite cloudy weather, deep puddles or muddy yards? Playing outdoors is an excellent opportunity for children to learn and develop, teaching them about the natural world while allowing them to be loud and wild – traits not always welcomed inside!

At Scribbles, our two Auckland childcare centres – Mt Wellington and Mt Roskill – all have beautiful outdoor areas perfectly designed to support the natural learning process that can only occur in Mother Nature. Here’s a few of the benefits fresh air offers our daycare tamariki.

Physical Health

Children are naturally physical creatures, running, climbing and jumping while they explore the great outdoors. By providing children with these opportunities for exercise, our childcare centres are setting them up for healthy lifelong habits. Plus, playing in the sunshine gives preschoolers a healthy dose of vitamin D which is important for strong bones and healthy immune systems.

Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Whether it’s climbing up a ladder or picking worms out of the garden, time spent outdoors will help children develop both gross and fine motor skills. Outdoor play encourages different movements than playing inside, and at daycare we frequently witness children practicing and furthering their physical skills. The outdoors is a fun environment for kids, so learning comes easily and naturally.


Nothing builds a child’s confidence like roaming around outside. Children seem to find their natural rhythm when they are in nature, with quieter children seeking out an activity like digging in the sandpit while louder children run around playing high energy games with their peers. When outside, there’s no feeling that any one preference is superior to the other, giving all our preschool children a boost of self-confidence and self-expression.

Sharing and Social Interaction

With all the wide-open spaces that the outdoors offers, it’s a perfect opportunity for preschoolers to learn to interact with one another. The unstructured nature of outdoor play allows children to explore and discover how to share toys, take turns and use their imaginations to create imaginative play scenarios.

A Love of Nature

At our daycare centres, we believe that an early love of nature is the first step in leading to a generation that is more sustainably-minded and earth-conscious than any before. Learning about the benefits of nature, children will also discover its grounding affects, and discover early on the value of time spent outdoors. It’s never too early to instill a love of the planet in children!

At Scribbles Childcare, we love watching children playing outside and seeing them make connections, learn and develop. Our two daycare centres in Mt Wellington and Mt Roskill have outdoor play built into our curriculum as we know how important the life lessons from nature are to our youngsters’ growing minds.