Many early childhood pioneer theorists had introduced the importance of outdoor play for young children long ago. Their ideas and influence on the evolution of early childhood practices and provision is undeniable. Who are these outdoor play theorists?
Rousseau (1712-1758) and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827)
Rousseau and Pestalozzi, inspired by the former, were precursor theorists on outdoor play by introducing and sustaining the original idea according to which nature and the natural environment had a definite and positive role in the education of children.
Friedrich F roebel (1782-1852)
Friedrich Froebel, founder of the Kindergarten and inspired by Pestalozzi, strongly emphasized the significance of outdoor play. The name he gave the schools for young children he created, themselves testify of the latter. Kindergarten literally means 'garden for children', demonstrating Froebel's endeavor to highlight the importance of the 'outside world' and nature. Froebel's kindergarten was knwon to be tripartite and one of the three essential element consisted of a garden in which children and their educator grew plants, harvested and made something out of the harvested product. Not only did such activities stimulate young children's awareness of the natural world, they taught children the existing connections between the natural environment, food and health (Froebelweb).
Margareth Mc Millan (1860-1931)
In 1911 Margareth Mc Millan and her sister established an open-air nursery for poor children in Deptford, England. With a strong emphasis on children's health and well being, Mc Millan's theoretical and practical education of young children incorporated exercise and fresh air at the heart of children's play ventures (Young-Ihm Kwon, 2007).
Susan Isaacs (1885-1948)
Susan Isaacs, psychologist and teacher was highly influenced by Froebel's educational ideas. She believed outdoor play to be extremely important and beneficial to young children. The Malting House School, which first opened as an experimental nursery school, and of which Susan Isaacs was in charge, had a well equipped garden with a play house, sand pit, tool shed, plots for gardening and one of the first climbing frame in Britain (Pound, 2005 in Mickleburgh, 2007). Although such outdoor provision may seem banal and hence taken for granted nowadays, it was highly innovative and original then. She also organised occasional trips away for the children in her care, which again was not something common to do by then.