Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years

Exciting new Masters (M.A. Education) Programme on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years (birth – five)


Cooking up something wonderful

I’m very excited to anounce my involvement in ground-breaking training and research at Masters level!

Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood: An opportunity to dig deeply into the why, what and how of playing and learning outdoors for young children from birth to five!

Why does being outdoors matter so much for young children? What does really effective and satisfying outdoor play look like?  How can practitioners be supported to provide inspirational learning in the outdoors?  Learning outdoors in early childhood is an exciting and rapidly expanding field both in practice and research.  Drawing from the rich heritage of outdoor play inBritishNursery School pedagogy, the deep significance of spending abundant time in rich outdoor environments is becoming increasingly evidenced and ever more important in the contexts of contemporary western lives.

Designed for professionals working in the early childhood field who have a strong interest in playing and learning outdoors, this module provides an extensive opportunity to investigate the main theories and pedagogies relevant to contemporary educational practice outdoors and introduces the relevant issues and debates, encouraging critical and independent appraisal.  Both content and assignments present opportunities to acquire the theory base and knowledge that will enable participants to develop their practice with greater understanding, awareness and critical insight, and include:

  • Child development and the foundational role of experience outdoors
  • Learning and well-being theories and their application in practice outdoors in early childhood
  • Pioneers and models of early childhood outdoor provision and pedagogy
  • Understandings of space and place through environment and landscape disciplines
  • International perspectives and the provocations they pose for contesting practice in theUK
  • Reflection, evaluation and action research on current provision and practice.

Designed and facilitated by Jan White, and carried out over one year as distance learning with training days at CREC in Birmingham, this new double module will provide a postgraduate certificate carrying 60 credits, and the subjects introduced can be further researched towards an MA Education (Early Years) – it will be possible to do a whole Masters on Being, Playing and Learning Outdoors!

Further information and anticipated start date (likely to be September 2012)will soon be available on the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) website www.crec.co.uk

Thanks to Hind Leys Preschool in Leicestershire for the image from their excellent mud kitchen above.


30 thoughts on “Exciting new Masters (M.A. Education) Programme on Learning Outdoors in the Early Years (birth – five)

  1. Oh, how I wish we had something like that here in Sydney!

    • Hi Jenny. I’m so pleased to hear from you – I’ve been following and loving your blog for ages – and tell lots of people to follow it! I’m working on a leaflet ‘how to set up a mud kitchen’ (to avoid the money-making companies getting teachers to think they have to buy one ready-made) and your attention to this area has been wonderful. thanks for your passion and enthusiasm!

      • Hi Jan – I was so thrilled to see that you have a blog. I’m a long time admirer (but not in a freaky stalkerish type of way!). I’d love to see you leaflet when it is done. Have you looked on my pinterest page – I have saved lots of images of mud pie kitchens there as well that you might find useful.

        Our kids were out cooking in the drizzle yesterday at the mud pie kitchen – where else would you cook in the rain? We added containers of warm soapy water and they had a ball.

      • Interesting that you used soap with the mud. Yesterday I included mud kitchening in my training (on supporting communication & language through outdoor provision) and it was so cold (below freezing at night here at the moment) that the mud behaved like jelly – fascinating and I think the teachers were hooked! Yes, was exploring your pinterest page just the other day – will include in the leaflet for sure.

  2. This sounds great. I have an interest in this in informal settings, how parents can create impactful outdoor experiences for their families and the value and benefits of this. Is this aimed mostly at professional practitioners? Would be interested in any research or reading suggestions you have you would be willing to share.

    • HI Stuart. Your project sounds really interesting – I’ll follow it up. Yes the Masters is aimed at professional practitioners, but a parental focus would enhance the work greatly of course. I do have some materials aimed at parents – I’ll try to find and post them sometime soon! Do you know about the Children and Nature Network – they are producing all sorts of stuff?

  3. So VERY glad to know about this! THANK YOU for sharing!! ~ This means there is a greater opportunity for more children to learn in this very important and valuable way! How terrific!

  4. Dear Jan
    Good news – there will be lots of demand for a course like this, filling the gap missed by statutory training.
    The link above is to another CREC. Oops! Correct link is here http://www.crec.co.uk/
    Please see my PhD research, to be published next year. I quote you a fair bit : ) http://melmccree.wordpress.com/research/
    Would love to contribute if you need any guest lecturers or material. I’m not far away from Brum in Glos.
    regards, Mel

    • Thanks Mel – I have corrected the post: the info is not yet on CREC’s website (although the course has been approaved for go-ahead by the University), so hope that’s all fine now!
      I will be very interested to see your research and to link up with you. I also plan to create some sort of online research-sharing for relevant dissertation-type work that isn’t yet at journal publication level. Do you know about EECERA and BECERA – there is an outdoor play and learning special interest group that is very active?

      • Thanks Jan – I did know about EECERA but not about the SIG, I shall sally forth and investigate. I shall email you further info re research so as not to clog up the comments here. Good to see such interest in the new course.

    • HI Mel – just taken a look around your website and what an interesting bag of interests you have. The PhD research certainly looks very interesting and relevant – the journey that practitioners take through the forest school thing certainly seems to be the most powerful aspect of the movement. I’m very interested in how this comes back into the daily lives of children in schools and settings, especially in onsite outdoor provision and practice…

      • Thanks Jan – just found this comment. I’m not a wordpress expert yet and it was hidden away in a corner named ‘notifications’! Yes hopefully there will be outcomes from the research that show how the daily lives of children are changed by the practitioners’ interventions. I’ve not been following the impact on children, but stuff comes up in the fieldwork that shows the struggles the practitioners undergo in order to maintain good FS practice, or in some cases, the amazing support they get. Certainly how the land itself is viewed changes too.

      • Hi Mel, that last comment is interesting – one of my particular interests is the ecology of space – how space affects us and how we dialogue with it (my focus is on children, but as a trainer/developer it would be very interesting to think about adults too). I’m looking forward to reading your thesis – or at least talking about it with you!

  5. If it is distance learning could it be made available to people all over the world? I know it says there will be some training and classroom time but it would be great to even be able to participate in part of the course….please keep me posted!

    • Gosh – that would be amazing. I don’t know how we’d do that yet (it’s not an online course), but we can certainly think about it! Thanks for your interest (where are you?)

  6. Jan – What an exciting new program! Congratulations! I would wish for such an extensive, focused program – or even an element of it – in U.S. graduate track of courses. The MA program in which I studied was rich, inquiry based, yet no outdoor learning courses. I suppose most programs address outdoor learning under the heading of “physical development” or “life science” ? Would you agree?
    I am currently involved in establishing my own small preschool at a church site (Palo Alto, CA) and we are developing the outside play space to benefit the church community as well as the preschool. Natural exploration space is our vision and your work is a great resource (as well as Jenny from Let the Children Play and many other fabulous play based bloggers!). Best of luck on the new venture!

    • Hi Jeanne. Despite its core role in our ECE framework, vocational, undergrad training and teacher training still don’t give much emphasis (apart from a few hotspots around the country) – it’s down to the sporadic nature of CPD. The momentum is building though and I’m an optimist! Interesting that you’re in California – I’ll be posting soon about a great conference in Berkley (June 25-8th 2012) that I’m involved in planning – watch this space!

  7. Am really interested in this. When will the details become available do you think? Curious about costs of the course and funding!

    • I’m meeting with the CREC people next week at the BECERA conference, so hope info will go on their website soon after – we want to get recruiting, so great that you are interested. the cost is subsidised and is the same as MAs in education elsewhere – I think it’s £1200 a year (the full masters takes 3 but my modules in the 1st year result in a stand-alone post graduate cert that you can then take forward toward diploma and then masters). keep an eye on CREC website.

  8. Hello,
    How do I register for my interest in this course? Can my name be added to a list? tori_byres@hotmail.com
    Thank you

  9. Hi Jan,
    This is just the course i’ve been looking for! Will be tapping up the head for some funding tomorrow! It’s great that it can be done through distance learning as well. Do training days always coincide with term time?

    • Hi Mike – great that you’re interested! We are just working on the dates now (5 actual days meeting up in Birmingham over the period from late Sept – Easter; I have some other plans too). And yes, will be in term time – this is really difficult, but the rationale that people with children should be able to have the holidays with them won out! Keep your eyes on the CREC site, but I’ll also post here when we’ve set the dates up. Looking forward to meeting you – Jan

  10. Pingback: Make a Mud Kitchen for Mud Day – new guidance published today! « Jan White Natural Play

  11. Hi Jan, It was great to meet and share with you during the Mindstretchers/Veldverk Scotland Study tour in April, 2013.
    I have been looking into the Master´s courses you mentioned at CREC and they are very inspiring – I have added them to my ´must study´ list!
    Thanks for your inspirational contributions to Early Years education.
    Maybe see you on the Finland study tour if you come 🙂

    • Hi Cheryl, great to hear from you and very pleased that the course interests you. I’m also going to be tutoring a post graduate certificate in ‘Children’s physical development from birth to seven’ at CREC from October, so it will be a busy and fulfilling time. Yes, I’ll see you in Finland, and meanwhile I hope all is good in Norway! Jan

      • Hi Jan,
        Just had fun doing my level 3 Forest Schools training in Wales with Darren Lewis! I´m still finishing off my Hons degree in Primary teaching (as well as working full-time!) this coming academic year but if all goes to plan hope to sign up for one of your CREC modules in 2014.
        I am still campaigning for school to take outdoor learning seriously and for it to be accessible to all Early Years classes. I am hopeful with a new Early Childhood head starting this week. I´m booked in to discuss possibilities and the bigger picture with her next week – fingers crossed 🙂
        See you in Finland! 🙂

  12. Hi Jan,

    Is this course still available?? I am an early years leader in suffolk and as an outstanding school we are keen to implement more outdoor provision throughout the whole school, especially the foundation stage. This course sounds fantastic.

    • Hi Sherise, Yes the course recruitment is currently open (until end September). The course has recruited very well this year and is nearly full, so I recommend you contact Carol Nelson at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) very soon if you are interested in applying for this year – starts mid October. You can also consider applying for next year’s course if it’s too soon to make the decision for this year. I look forward to welcoming you on the course some time! Jan

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