Children are missing out on essential learning experiences and the chance to explore because of a lack of space, according to research published in the new issue of Children in Europe magazine.
Despite access to outdoor spaces being increasingly recognised as vital for nurturing and developing young children's natural inquisitiveness, long-term well-being, and creative and cognitive development, the research reveals that standards in services for young children vary widely across Europe. Some countries, including the Republic of Ireland, France and Germany, specify no national requirements.
Although Scotland does have a requirement for local authority nursery schools and classes for three to four-year-olds to provide an area of 9.3m2 per child - less than the size of the average bedroom - other services need only provide "adequate and appropriate space". When compared with the 40^m2 for pre-school children in Croatia and 33^m2 per child allocated in Norway for under-threes, there was clearly still work to be done, said Children in Scotland.
Its chief executive, Bronwen Cohen, said: "The need for access to quality outdoor space extends beyond simply learning about nature, to learning in nature, which is good for mental and physical health, and which binds community and family in discovering and developing local resources."