Outdoor provision for babies and toddlers: exploring the practice/policy/research nexus in English ECEC settings

Josephidou, Jo; Kemp, Nicola and Durrant, Ian (2021). Outdoor provision for babies and toddlers: exploring the practice/policy/research nexus in English ECEC settings. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2021.1985555

Abstract

A wealth of research evidences the positive impact of the outdoors for young children. Yet there is little relating to the experiences of babies and toddlers who attend daycare settings. This paper offers new knowledge about outdoor provision for under twos in the English context where there is a lack of explicit policy support for outdoor practice. Findings, captured through an online survey from Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings in one geographically diverse county, reveal a generally positive picture. This suggests that practice is ahead of research. However, the survey also highlights significant variability in outdoor provision. We suggest that, in the absence of a strong policy driver ECEC settings may be inadvertently laying the foundations for inequality of access to the outdoors. Furthermore, a lack of research evidence to inform practice may be contributing to an underdevelopment of the pedagogic value of outdoor environments.

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