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Managing Behaviour Through Active Outdoor Play

Managing children’s behaviour can often be difficult for schools and teachers as not all pupils respond to instructions in the same way, and the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with behavioural problems makes this even more of a challenge.  In the UK it is estimated that around 2-5% of school age children are affected by ADHD, the most common behavioural disorder in the country. The provision of active outdoor play in an engaging and stimulating environment at schools has been shown to address these issues and help to reduce symptoms in children with these kinds of disorders.

Children with behavioural disorders such as ADHD can be misunderstood by teachers and their needs are sometimes not dealt with appropriately. Schools often take a negative approach to these problems by denying a child the opportunity to take part in active play if they have exhibited ‘disruptive’ behaviour or a ‘lack of attention’. These techniques of behaviour management are typically counter-productive as disruptive children usually become more frustrated when they are unable to release their energy through physical activity or outdoor play. The build up of adrenaline and testosterone only increases frustration and therefore leads to the child becoming more hyperactive and disruptive.

Benefits of Active Outdoor Play

A more productive way of schools and nurseries dealing with children who have difficult behaviour is to provide a positive learning environment which gives them access to active outdoor play in a fun environment. This has benefits for all children as it enables them to ‘let off steam’ and release built up energy so that they will be able to concentrate and focus their attention more in lessons. Allowing children to be active and take part in sports and physical games outdoors has been shown to help rebalance hormones which in turn reduces disruptive behaviour and encourages better concentration.

School Activity Surfacing Designs

Outdoor Games Space

A study recently published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that children who regularly play outdoors have reduced ADHD symptoms compared with those who play indoors. This supports the need for better external play facilities at schools and nurseries which allow children to take part in physical activities whilst also learning and developing social skills with others. Educational organisations have a responsibility to manage children’s behaviour appropriately, and providing opportunities for active outdoor play can benefit all children, not just those with behavioural difficulties. Giving each child the chance let out their physical energy by playing games and socialising with others in an outdoor environment is a simple way to help relieve frustration and improve concentration in lessons.

Outdoor Recreational Areas

There are a number of ways that schools and nurseries can improve their outdoor environment and provide a better place for children to learn and play while releasing built up energy. Adventure trails and activity units give kids the chance to develop a number of physical skills such as balance, coordination and agility as well as social skills in working with others. Educational playground markings can provide kids with a number of games such as maths grids, letter snakes and maps which encourage intellectual development through fun activities. There are also a whole host of other types of play equipment including climbing walls and activity panels, and playground graphic marking designs such as sports lines and traditional games. Your school can choose from various different options to ensure you get the perfect outdoor recreational area which meets the needs of your pupils.

School Wet Pour Surfacing

School Play Surface

If you’d like to improve the provision of active outdoor play at your school or nursery and need help with designing a facility or finding the right equipment to suit your students, please get in touch with us through our contact form. We would be happy to offer advice and further information on how creating opportunities for physical activity can increase children’s concentration and benefit your school as a whole.


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