Celebration of the year that’s passed and optimism for the year ahead!

Despite the limitations on in-person gatherings and face-to-face events since March last year, members of the Early Childhood Outdoors meshwork have clearly been beavering away on our individual and collective missions.  Both as individuals, settings or organisations and through working collaboratively, we have stuck to our united vision of more children thriving outdoors, more often and for longer, benefiting from richer and more meaningful environments offering authentic, rewarding and satisfying experiences.  

This dedication, along with the desire to think more deeply about what it means to be outdoors with young children, has been very evident through the posts shared by so many people through this blog.  Each post shows how the ‘felt-like fabric’ of the meshwork is being made thicker, stronger and harder to pull apart: mainstreaming outdoor play and learning, and ensuring that we never again forget how much is gained from being outdoors for long periods every day, how effective it is as a place for learning, and just how much young children’s brains, bodies and spirits need to be there!

With this first post of the new year, we present an ECO blog review showing the wide range of progress taking place in the UK and Ireland across 2020.  By gathering together one post from each month illustrating each of the elements that Early Childhood Outdoors works to support, it becomes easy to see how we are collectively driving forward all of the developments needed to pursue every child’s right to be outdoors.

So, despite how very difficult 2020 has been, I think you’ll agree that we do have cause for celebration in the year that’s passed – and optimism for the year that’s coming.  Resilience and hopefulness are, after all, two of the dandelion’s best dispositions!

And while we’re being optimistic… we have been planning for our next ECO professional gathering against the ever-shifting horizon of sufficient lessening of restrictions.  We do know that we’ll be outdoors this year, and recommend that you lightly pencil Saturday 10th July into your 2021 diary.  More information will be coming as soon as we’re able to be more definite!

January: working therapeutically with the outdoors

Routes of resilience in the early years – pathways to flourishing by Annie Davy of The Nature Effect

February: guest post from a grandparent

Slowliness – smelling the roses of childhood by Carol Duffy, Early Childhood Ireland

March: child development visual training materials for birth to three outdoors

Toddlers thrive outdoors too! from Siren Films

April: guest post from a parent

The joy of moving forward in thought by Helen Coles, parent at Beatle Woods Outdoor Nursery

May: advocacy for 3 hours outdoors a day with a new resource

Reasons to be outside in the coming months by Jan White and Liz Edwards of Muddy Faces

June: ECO Pioneering Centres – Beatle Woods Outdoor Nursery

Staying true to why we work in the way we do by Rachel Macbeth-Webb

July: training to develop practice outdoors

Would you like to pilot a new (free) online course on physical development? from the Open University

August: learning from Fröebelian thinking and practice

Learning in the outdoors and listening to Fröebel by Felicity Thomas of Minds4Learning

September: a collaboration that creates a wonderful new facility

Outdoor play books now all available in one place by Jan White and Richard Myers of Books Education

October: research digging deeper into what it means to be outdoors

Joining in: place as a conversational partner in young children’s talk by Abi Hackett, Manchester Metropolitan University

November: Early Years TV Summit on Outdoor Play and Learning interviews with Kathy Brodie

Designing an effective play area from Julie Mountain of Play Learning Life

December: forming the meshwork

Celebrating 60 posts on our blog!  with messages from several of our post authors sharing what being part of the ECO meshwork has meant for them – and turning towards what’s coming in 2021!

Wishing everyone the very best for the year to come!

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