Outdoor play sessions for young children

Play in the Community

Outdoor play sessions for young children

Sarah Meyrick and Zoe Proctor talk about providing unstructured outdoor play at their Wild Tots outdoor community group in Monmouthshire.

At the centre of our Wild Tots ethos is wild play which promotes children and adults being active outdoors through the seasons and embracing all weathers.

We focus on starting young while integrating the different generations into our unstructured, outdoor ethos. Wild Tots prides itself on filling a field with mums, dads, grandmas, grandpas, nannies, aunties, uncles, toddlers, older siblings, babies and bumps!

The sessions are outcome and theme free which create endless opportunities for unstructured child led play, to explore and discover the natural environment. We have replaced traditional toys with loose parts and a visit to a local scrapstore has generated endless fun, resourcefulness, collaboration and problem solving between children and adults alike.

Parental responsibility is paramount. But our ethos is of mutual support and collective responsibility by everyone in Wild Tots. Adults and children all get stuck in to make the sessions easy and welcoming for everyone to be involved.

At Wild Tots we believe in building a positive outdoor experience for both children and adults and acknowledge the famous saying ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ and seek to help and inform children and adults on how to dress for the weather. Wild Tots actively promotes and encourages the importance of children and adults being able to confidently understand their own safety with a Wild Leader and peer guidance and support if needed.

The success of the model has given us the inspiration to set up as a social enterprise to enable others (for example parents, local authorities and housing associations) to set up their own Wild Tots group that continues our ethos of being outdoors, unstructured, affordable and inclusive.

‘We spent the most enjoyable, and rare, couple of hours watching our two children play in your mud kitchen at Wild Tots. This was a huge milestone for us… never in Noah’s three and a half years have we seen him so focused, so engrossed, so relaxed in any activity for such a sustained time. And the big surprise for us was how our 11 year old responded to the environment too… She loved it as much as her brother, and to see the two of them enjoying playing together and for so long was a complete joy, and a first!’
- Noah’s family