Why children need weekly outdoor outings to wild spaces. By Kay Woods

Feature blogger:

Why children need weekly outdoor outings to wild spaces
By Kay Woods, Forest Childcare Association

If children want to play outside of their own back gardens today they have to wait for an adult to take them. The world is not the same place as it was when Christopher Robin was allowed to wander around his 100 acre wood all day long, playing Pooh Sticks and climbing trees (gasp!) completely unsupervised! As a society for many reasons (from justified fears about traffic, to out-of-proportion fears about strangers) we no longer let children visit their local woodlands, fields or even parks by themselves. Children must be continually supervised, and sadly this means that very few get casual access to their local patch of nature to play alone or in wild places any more.
And the consequence: many children today are growing up missing out on a connection with the natural world. They don’t spend enough time outdoors and they are suffering the results including obesity, mental health problems and a growing inability to assess risk for themselves.
What all this means is that one of the key positive influences that parents and child care providers can give to the children they look after is time playing in the great outdoors. Children need adults to take them to ‘wild’ places and then they need adults to stand back and give them time, space and encouragement to explore on their own while they are there. Parents are busy, parents are working. Therefore the responsibility for taking children on these outings frequently falls to childcare providers to give children the experiences they might otherwise miss out on.

Weekly outdoor outings to ‘wild’ spaces have benefits for everyone
When I was a childminder I always took the childminded children on outdoor outings. Once a week, whatever the weather, we went somewhere outdoors. Our trips ranged from simple visits to the park, duck pond, and urban green spaces, to more planned trips to our local ‘wild’ areas like woods and nature reserves.
Outdoor outings contribute to learning and health. These benefits apply to me as well! I always said that being out in the woods with the children was one of my favourite parts of being a childminder. It was wonderful watching how alive the children became when they were exploring outdoors and how recharged I felt watching them play. I also felt great because I knew that when they are out in the woods with me, I was giving them a really great experience, better than the most expensive toy in our play room, and more special than anything they would be ‘learning’ in an overcrowded nursery room.
Lots of childminders feel exactly the same as me about the outdoors and outings, and understand how special the experiences that we can give to the children we look after are. Others may feel less confident about taking groups of children of mixed ages and abilities to the woods on their own. So I started the Forest Childcare Association to support and encourage other childcare providers to offer this ‘best practice’ policy of weekly outdoor outings to the children they look after.
It is not possible to roll back the clock and send children out to play alone and unsupervised in wild spaces as they would have done in the past. But this doesn’t mean that caring adults can’t offer children the next best thing by taking them on outdoor outings on a regular basis.

Child-led Learning
Outdoor outings have benefits to children regardless of their age. For babies, they will be intrigued by the sights, smells and sounds of the environment and reach out towards things that interest them and catch their attention. Toddlers want to explore the natural world around them by crawling and walking. Preschool children will explore more purposely, play games of imagination and enjoy challenging themselves outdoors.
You don’t have to plan anything complex to do with the children while you are out. Sometimes it’s fun to go on a scavenger hunt, or collect things, but other times the point of the trip is simply to be outside and experience the outdoors. As a childcare provider you can instruct them about important safety issues like not eating red berries, touching fungus, or stroking strange dogs, but most of what they need to ‘learn’ is for the children to discover for themselves.
They are learning about textures when they pick up a sharp rock. They are learning about the weather and self-care issues when they take their coat off because they are hot. They are counting conkers and acorns, learning about space and shape when they squeeze themselves under a branch, and learning that if they work together it is easier to shift a log than trying to do it alone.
Most importantly, they are learning the importance of not littering, respecting wildlife, trees and other people’s right to enjoy the outdoor space as well. They are learning an appreciation for the environment that they will take with them as they grow up.
Wherever children live, they need to spend time getting back to nature. Natural environments give children and the adults who look after them untold benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. Weekly outdoor outings is a “best-practice” goal that all childcare providers can aim for with some support, advice and a little encouragement.
Join the Forest Childcare Association and make a commitment to taking children on weekly outdoor outings or look for a Forest Childcare Provider for your under 5s

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When you join the Forest Childcare Association for just £15 I will send you a pack of information including risk assessments, links to the EYFS, all the forms and paperwork you need to make outings happen, plus 50 crafts and activities you can do with childminded children. You will also receive marketing tools to help you to use the idea of weekly outdoor outings to promote your childminding business.



OMG! I won !

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


On the 8th October, I was in for two awards via Bizmums.

I was finalised for health and beauty mum of the year for my lash addiction business and exceptional service for my childminding.

The national conference and awards was help at the Manor House in Alsager.

I was a nervous wreak, in 2015, I attended with my parents this year I was braving it alone. Even though I knew Becky was with me I was still petrified. I knew a few other members of Bizmums would be there, a good friend Jennifer and others local to me but was a totally different feeling this time.

Ever since I was nominated for these awards, I have put a lot work into my self belief and done a lot with Feng Shui thanks to Patricia Lohan from Patricialohan. I was gunning to win.. I wanted it and did loads to help this happen, from manifesting, to writing affirmations and adding to my fame and reputation area…I knew my business was amazing… I knew it was greatly appreciated by the families and women using my services… I wanted it….

The conference day was amazing the buzz around was electric. Women connecting in person, after knowing each other virtually.

There was three guest speaker Sue Tonks, who talked to us all about talking to people, our common subjects as a typical Brit. Emma Privilege, taught us about mindset, the snooze button and have ten great tips, the be the 2nd time heard Emma and she still so grounded. She even managed to give the Boyfriend (who jode for afternoon, a verbal kick up the bum). Victoria Molyneux from the fashion trend, Want that Trend. (Where I have many a dress from) was so helpful in tips and seeing how fast her own business had taken off. Michelle had chosen  the speakers so well. Each one so modest in their success and still so easy to talk to.

The afternoon awards ceremony started there was 10 categories and each one of the finalists all deserved a win for their efforts, from business, to personal and charity efforts.

My health and beauty category came up and went but my goodness, I am so proud friend Michala Leyland and Jo Howarth were joint winners. I really can not be compared to them and the changes they have both made to other people’s lives.

Within the Exceptional service award, I again was up with Michala and many other inspiring mums. I was sitting with Becky and just pointed in the programme to the winner  “clean sweep here, Michala will have this”

Oh how I was wrong… My god I was in shock, when I heard the reason to winner…I twigged on it was referred to me…. It still gives little shivers now listening to the video now.

Here’s link to see via my Facebook, Winner video 

I was in total shock, shaking and crying, I run my childminding business the way I needed a childcare provider while going through a divorce. I knew it was greatly needed by many families. I final felt the childcare sector was being recognised and considered, as a valuable service to families and children.

I must really thank all the families who use my service as without them it would just be an idea trying to get off the ground. Thank them all for completing service questionnaires to show how the business really does help them and their individual needs. Here is some of their kind words.

“We choose Steph for a number of reasons. We quickly realised that nurseries wouldn’t suit our needs for budget and flexibility. Being selfemployed, I required one flexible day per week childcare at the time of looking. Steph could accommodate this and understood our requirements” mum of two in my care.

“Stephs childminding has helped us so much as a RAF family, my kids were nervous to go to a ‘strangers’ house, they have Confidance issues, Steph changed all that with her up beat personality and enthusiasm…she is very flexible with her working hours which is fantastic for my shift changes” Mum of 2.

These words and words from other families and friends after the awards just go to show that the hard work is paying off. That more and more families work less 9-5 jobs and more more flexibility, than the usual structures childcare provider.

I set out 3years ago to provide a valuable service to the new modern day families, and I am achieving this well. To a go degree I have no more room to offer my service out to this high level. With Ofsted restrictions and two of my own children, it’s a balancing act daily, however an extremely rewards one. Seeing the changes I have made in the parents lives, watching some of these children bloom from babies to three years olds speaks volumes to me. The excitements they bring each morning on drop off says it all too.

I want ant to say a final thank you to my friends and family who have highly supported me on this 3 year journey, the families who access my services and Jo Howrath for the regognition via Bizmums awards and Michelle Child’s and Stacey Knight-Jones for bringing Bizmums to my local area.

To find out more about Bizmums and how it can help you or another lady in business check it out here. Bizmums main site

Patricia Lohan and feng shui mastery http://patricialohan.com