Parental contribution and concerns linked to local outdoor spaces.
According to Rouse (2012), the involvement and engagement of parents in their children’s education have long been recognised as an important contributor in enhancing outcomes for children. Also, it has been underlined that the dialogue between childcare providers and parents and informing them about the multifaced benefits of outdoor activities on a physical, social, and cognitive benefits of outdoor play opportunities has the potential to promote both groups’ value for active play (Rouse, 2016). When it comes to collaboration with parents there is an interesting point to be stressed regarding how teachers and parents approach collaboration. According to Tayler (2006), teachers perceive the collaboration with parents to build common understanding about the child. However, Hedges & Lee (2010), in their research examining parent perspectives have shown that it is the quality of the interpersonal communication between the teacher and the parent that is the barometer of how parents/carers evaluate the quality of the partnership. Jayasuriya, Williams, Edwards & Tandon (2016), explored the parental perceptions and knowledge of outdoor playtime in childcare environments. The main barriers that the parents express regarding their children engagement in outdoor activities are the following:
Wearing weather appropriate clothing,
A significant reason as highlighted by Evans (2000), is the fact that play areas for children such as traditional playground areas, streets, backyards are less accessible. Dowdell, Gray & Malone (2011), agree that the loss of outdoor play spaces has impacted the children’s opportunities to play. Moreover, adults’ involvement will affect the type of experiences that children have access to and how they approach new areas of knowledge. The role of teamwork between families and practitioners is a significant factor for quality planning and intervention and reflecting upon children’s well-being and involvement (Bento & Dias, 2017). According to Gill (2010), fears that parents have regarding accessing the outdoor spaces, are often brought by misinterpretations of reality, without having a real expression in society. For example, the fear about child’s abduction is not linked to an increase in these types of crimes, although a greater emphasis is given to these situations by social media. As Bento & Dias (2017) express, by promoting the development of positive outdoor experiences and by informing parents about the benefits of accessing the outdoors will eventually support the integration of these type of experiences in family routines. The development of strategies that allow parents to get involved in their pre-schooler’s daily activities, both indoors and outdoors, is important as they have the potential to support the parent–child bond and foster continued positive behaviours. Moreover, it is important to underline the fact that in 2016, Rouse highlights that there is a shortage of studies that have explored parental perceptions of outdoor play in early learning settings, something important as the understanding of the factors that families consider as barriers to experience the outdoors, can lead to a successful planning to change this reality.