Exploring the Implementation of Outdoor Play in Nova Scotia’s Pre-primary Program

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Richard, Brenna
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Introduction: Research has indicated that outdoor play influences children’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional well-being, but there exist barriers to outdoor play implementation in early learning settings. Given the novelty of Nova Scotia’s Pre-primary Program, little is known about how outdoor play is being implemented. Methods: Focus groups and interviews were conducted with two Pre-primary Program Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), two facilitators, two school teachers, the school principal, and three staff from the Government of Nova Scotia. Data also included photographs of the outdoor play spaces used by the Pre-primary Program taken during a site visit and the collection of relevant documentation. Results: Thematic analysis of all data was completed and resulted in a description of the outdoor play space and practices of the Preprimary Program and factors that may be influencing these identified practices. Six themes or ‘outdoor play influencers’ were identified: 1) Outdoor play, including loose parts and risky play, is valued; 2) outdoor play is promoted and engaged in by others; 3) space and resources are available; 4) communication and engagement happens; 5) leaders are integral; 6) partnerships and collaboration are essential. Significance: This research contributes an understanding of the various perceptions about outdoor play (including loose parts and risky play), and outdoor play implementation strategies that may provide guidance to stakeholders involved in the Pre-primary Program including ECEs and policy makers.
Outdoor play, pre-primary education, early childhood educators