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The Great Outdoors - TUS unveil first outdoor classroom for Early Childhood degree programme

Pictured at the TUS outdoor Classroom were, Early Childhood Education and Care degree students, Marina Warnakulasuriya and Nathan Moroney with TUS President, Prof. Vincent Cunnane. Picture: Alan Place

Outdoor play is increasingly being recognised as a key component to the development of children from a young age. Understanding its importance, Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) has unveiled its first outdoor classroom at its Moylish Campus in Limerick, providing Early Childhood Education and Care degree students with a practical facility to develop a range of skills when working with young children in an outdoor environment.

The new outdoor classroom includes several sensory, developmental, as well as physical activity amenities for Early Childhood Education and Care students to study, giving them the opportunity to complete a large proportion of their curriculum outside. With outdoor play acting as an important mechanism to support cognitive, physical, social and emotional wellbeing, this new facility will positively impact students in their professional development as early childhood educators according to experts.

Speaking about the development of the new outdoor classroom, Amy McGuire, Head of Department, Sport & Early Childhood Studies said, “The Covid-19 pandemic significantly highlighted the importance of outdoor play and its contribution to the health and development of children. In 2021, Tusla developed specific guidelines for outdoor play and the recent Early Childhood Ireland policy conference brought together leading researchers alongside policy makers and stakeholders to discuss outdoor play in Early Years settings and how this can be better facilitated. We are delighted to unveil our outdoor classroom to allow us to provide expert and practical training to our Early Childhood Education and Care students in this unique outdoor space which will be developed further over the coming months to extend the learning opportunities for our students.”

Yvonne McNamara, Early Childhood Education & Care Lecturer at TUS, said, “The new outdoor classroom at our Moylish campus is a fantastic resource for our students and ensures we continue to produce work-ready graduates with the practical skills and competencies to thrive in their careers.”

Yvonne O Sullivan, owner of Naionra na nOg pre-school in Shannabooly, who was recently recognized for their progressive approach to outdoor play at the Early Childhood Ireland policy conference in March said, “The outdoors provide such a unique opportunity to extend learning for children through a different lens. Accessing students who are equipped with an extra layer of understanding in providing holistic learning outdoors and seeing beyond the classroom walls is invaluable to me as an employer.”

Shauna Fisher, a current fourth-year student in Early Childhood Education and Care at TUS said, “The new outdoor classroom has given me practical, first-hand experience about the many benefits of being outdoors for children, and the extent of learning and development that can take place. It’s great for students here in TUS to be able to access resources like this as part of our degree.”

For further information on Early Childhood Education and Care at TUS, click here.