Outdoor Classroom Stories: ScallyWags pre-school, Ireland

5th October 2018

In the second of our Outdoor Classroom Stories, we’re heading over to County Kerry in Ireland and ScallyWags pre-school.

ScallyWags is a rural, privately-run pre-school. It takes its children outdoors every single day; no matter what the weather. Therefore we think they’re the perfect advocates for Outdoor Classroom Day

“Unrestricted activities help children to make sense of the world.”

Daily outdoor play is what’s on offer at ScallyWags Pre-School in Ireland. With up to 17 under-fives, the converted garage and garden is an outdoor haven for mini adventurers.

Patricia Quigley is in charge; a woman passionate about outdoor learning and play. Even if it’s raining, she encourages her children to go outside. They enjoy simple pleasures: running across grass, jumping in muddy puddles or using shovels to dig for stones.

She believes giving children the freedom to explore is crucial in inspiring purposeful learning and development.

Inspectors recognised this hands on approach to learning and play when they rated the pre-school as ‘excellent’ in every area in 2016. Clearly it’s an approach that works.

Why the focus on outdoors?

Patricia considers being outside during early years as crucial to the development of a well-rounded person.

Her aim of taking her pre-schoolers outdoors is rooted in the idea that connecting them with nature encourages them to think differently; it helps them solve tricky problems first hand and reduces stress and anxiety by providing a balance to the demands of today’s technology.

She argues that every child will learn to read and write at school, so at this young age it is all about releasing energy and building good social skills. Physically this means growing stronger and gaining a good immune system while mental benefits could be learning patience from watching vegetables grow, managing emotions after falling over and feeling a sense of achievement when climbing a tree.

“Outside children don’t have the restriction of a table and chair and they don’t click that they are learning. They are having fun and remember what they have discovered when they come back into the classroom,” Patricia said.

“The children enjoy daily free play in the most beautiful, enchanted, secret garden, where fairies live in dainty little houses, cardboard monsters roam and witches’ potions are freshly brewed each day. Children’s curiosity, sense of awe and wonder, and imagination are greatly inspired.”

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Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

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