Kindergarten parents place greater importance on nature and the outdoors since COVID-19 restrictions

5 May 2021

Forest School, bug hunting, mud kitchens and tree climbing are just a few of the outdoor activities St Mary’s Kindergarten children have been embracing and spending more time taking part in since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Over 75% of Kindergarten parents feel that their children spending time outside has become more important to them since before the pandemic. This compares strongly with a recent survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in which more than 40% of people in England say nature, wildlife and local green spaces became even more valuable to them since coronavirus restrictions began.

St Mary’s Kindergarten, based in Colchester, Essex has been ensuring the children in their care spend as much time as possible enjoying the nine acres of grounds they are situated within. Facilities available to the children age 2-4 include a Forest School area, multi-sensory play area, outdoor classroom, sports courts and playing fields. Forest School and outdoor learning has always played an important role in the curriculum at the Kindergarten but during the pandemic, St Mary’s made the decision to deliver even more of the syllabus outdoors which still continues now restrictions have begun to ease.

The importance of having green spaces to enjoy in a nursery setting was deemed ‘very important’ by 83% of St Mary’s Kindergarten parents who also indicated they would like their children to spend on average 57% of the day outdoors. Many commented on how this has impacted on their home life with their children having a greater appreciation of nature and enjoying getting active on bikes, scooters and playing outdoor sports. Parents also highlighted that they felt their children were happier, calmer and slept better after spending time outdoors.

Mrs Emma Stanhope, Director of St Mary’s Kindergarten and Lower School said: “We are so very lucky to have our purpose-built Kindergarten set within beautiful green spaces to share with the children in our care.” Mrs Stanhope went on to describe that “story-telling, creative and exploration type activities now often take place in the outdoor classroom, which has been found to really help the children’s concentration due to the peaceful setting. As well as lessons like PE, subjects such as maths frequently take place outside too, with the children completing activities including finding shapes in the environment or counting natural objects.”

Unsurprisingly, the Kindergarten is very popular, and places often get booked up over a year in advance. For anyone wishing to find out more about the setting and this new way of delivering the curriculum, visit www.stmaryscolchester.org.uk where you can reserve a place at the Kindergarten Open Days on Saturday 8 May and Wednesday 12 May or families may arrange a private tour at a time that is convenient.

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