How “MLO – Moving and Learning Outside” was born

Under the motto “Playing and Learning Outside”, 52 educational bodies from 19 European countries analysed and discussed themes connected with the main topic in a transnational seminar fully financed by the program Erasmus + that was held on October 2016.

Tangible goals were not dismissed in this seminar, with the Municipality of Torres Vedras carrying the will of searching for European partners that, together with the educational community of Torres Vedras, would investigate practices from the different schools of the partner countries. In this way, we expected to contribute for the increase of outdoor activities that are extremely rich in a pedagogical way and that offer an enabling environment for children’s cognitive, social and motor development – which means their global development.

As a body with responsibilities in the development of Torres Vedras educational project, it is important to clarify that the Municipality of Torres Vedras acknowledges that there is a lot to do in our schools. This means that, despite our favourable weather conditions hardly repeated in other European countries, our children do not spend plenty of time outdoors. Activities that happen inside school rooms often get the priority.

The participants in the seminar were divided into groups that were formed having in the consideration each other’s interests, as well as the topics defined before. The members of the group that would be in the origin of “MLO – Moving and Learning Outside” worked around the topic “Physical activity / Movement and learning outcomes, healthy way of being and how to make pupils active”.

Therefore, Florence Valentin, from St. Anthonys Primary Schooll (Brussels – Belgium), Kalervo Valli, from the Kindergarten Katariina Valski (Turku – Finland), Liisa Otsak, from Naba’s Kindergarten (Tallin – Estonia), Rodrigo Ramalho, from the Municipality of Torres Vedras (Portugal) and Silvija Zlatar, from the Kindergarten Matije Gupca (Zagreb – Croatia) were the members that took part in this program’s initial group.

After the end of the seminar in Turku, contacts were being made with the purpose of developing an idea that had been worked only in two working days. Likewise, after verifying the impossibility of maintaining the participation of the Belgian and Finish institutions, the Croatian, Estonian and Portuguese partners decided to question others entities that could represent a gain to this project.

Since the beginning that all participants considered fundamental the inclusion of a higher education institution that could represent a scientific body in this project, something that none of the other projects represented. However, we not only had the opportunity of having the Faculty of Human Kinetics of the University of Lisbon, as by its suggestion we could count on the participation of Queen Maud University College from Trondheim. In this way, MLO assured the participation of two academic entities that have internationally recognized work on the topic.

From Torres Vedras’ side, a scholar partner was still missed. The four groups of schools that were questioned revealed to be interested in taking part of MLO, however it was only possible to include the Group of Schools Madeira Torres – Kindergarten of Conquinha.

Finally, the challenge was made to the non-governmental organization Payzontas that has a recognized work on this field. Like this, the final constitution of “MLO – Moving and Learning Outside” was closed.

Over the two and a half years of the project, we will look over to contribute that our children will have more opportunities of being happy. We believe that the change from a school inside four walls to a school with a biggest connection with the outdoor and from leisure time based on tablets to leisure time lived with the family and in contact with nature will be a fundamental contribution in order to watch the growing process and the development of more healthy and happy children.

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