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22 February 2018, 12:28
The Scottish government has given an organisation more than £860,000 to increase outdoor learning for nursery children.
Announcing the £862,550 for Inspiring Scotland, Childcare and Early Years Minister Maree Todd said she hoped learning outdoors becomes "a defining feature of childhood in Scotland".
Inspiring Scotland outlined plans to use cash to boost the time nursery children spend outdoors.
These include working with eight local authorities, yet to be identified, to deliver outdoor learning and creating a "how to" guide with advice on how to access outdoor spaces.
Further plans involve working with councils, voluntary organisation, charities and private firms to promote outdoor learning and helping review its impact.
Ms Todd made the announcement on a visit to Edinburgh Council's Lauriston Castle Forest Kindergarten.
She said: "Outdoor learning not only improves mental wellbeing and health and fitness, it can make a huge difference to children's confidence levels and their ability to risk assess while encouraging a lifelong love of the outdoors.
"By supporting our young people to go outside and play we are not only making sure their early years are as happy and healthy as possible we are also ensuring every child in Scotland gets the best possible start in life."
Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland's Chief Executive, said: "Our role will include supporting local authorities and social enterprises to develop and scale up outdoor nursery provision alongside supporting good practice to embed outdoor play-based childcare, helping to make playing outside in nature part of the way children in Scotland learn and develop from an early age."
Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood added a "growing body" of research shows improved cognition in children with higher levels of active outdoor play, "which can result in better academic performance and contribute to closing the attainment gap".