Playing & Learning Outdoors
Nursery Outings: A Beginner’s Guide to Organising Trips
The prospect of planning nursery outings can seem daunting – even if it’s just a quick visit to the local park. There’s certainly a lot to think about in terms of safety and practicalities, but outings can be extremely beneficial to the children and so it’s worth making the effort to incorporate them into your nursery practice.
Where to go?
Have a think about what’s available in your local area. Where could you easily walk to? Could you use public or private transport to visit a local attraction? Is there a particular activity that would tie in with a subject you’ve been exploring in the nursery?
Here are some ideas about the different kinds of places that you could visit with the children, and some suggestions of what to do when you get there (obviously most of these activities would need to be arranged/set up in advance):
- Zoo or wildlife park – learn about different animals
- Farm – feed the animals
- Library – find and read some books together
- Park – do a scavenger hunt
- Museum – do a trail or craft activity
- Theatre – watch a play or take part in a workshop
- Factory – see how things are made
- Fire/police station – find out about people’s jobs
- Shops – buy ingredients for something to make back at the nursery
The benefits of taking children on nursery outings
Getting the children out of the nursery and into other settings can be very rewarding. Here are just some of the benefits:
- Outings can help the children feel more rooted in their local community and make connections with the outside world
- Outings can provide rich learning opportunities, including hands-on and interactive experiences, building on what the children are learning in the nursery (before, during and after the trip)
- Outings can stimulate curiosity and inspire new interests
- Outings can foster children’s social skills and self-confidence
- Outings can help promote healthy living (eg by encouraging walking and an enjoyment of the natural environment)
As a side benefit, outings can also be good publicity for your nursery, if the children are wearing hi-vis vests with your name/logo on (and behaving well!).
Policies and procedures
The first thing to do when organising nursery outings is to check your nursery’s written policy on outings. This is likely to cover issues such as obtaining parental consent, ratios of adults to children, number of first aiders needed, dealing with medical conditions, taking emergency contact details and so on. Plan your trip accordingly.
You should also carry out a risk assessment ahead of the outing, examining specific details such as the safety of your walking route, access to toilets etc. It’s not an EYFS requirement to provide a written version of your risk assessment, but it’s certainly a good idea to have one if possible.
The complexity of the risk assessment will obviously vary greatly depending on what kind of outing is involved; a whole day’s visit to the zoo including transport will need a much more detailed assessment than an hour’s trip to the local park on foot. If you go on very similar outings regularly (eg the park example – particularly relevant for nurseries that don’t have their own outside space) then you can use the same template, but make sure it is reviewed periodically.
Tips for better nursery outings
Carefully following your nursery’s policy on outings, as well as carrying out a risk assessment before you go, should ensure the safety of the children. Their safety is, of course, the most important aspect of your trip. But ideally, the children should also be comfortable and well behaved and have lots of fun too. So here are some extra tips on running outings as calmly and smoothly as possible:
Managing the group
Put the children in pairs and get them to walk hand in hand in crocodile formation. Take regular head counts. Take a photo of each child at the beginning of the day, so that you know exactly what they are all wearing just in case one of them gets lost.
Encouraging good behaviour
Discuss this with the children before the trip to make sure they understand what is expected of them – you could get them involved in making suggestions. Talk about how they should behave in specific situations, eg when walking along the pavement, when close to animals, when asking people questions.
Planning for the weather
Depending on the time of year, weather forecast, activity and so on, communicate with parents to ensure that the children are not only wearing appropriate clothing but have also been sent in with extra supplies if necessary (eg a change of clothes, additional layers, waterproofs, gloves, sun hats, sun cream etc).