What are the benefits of taking very young children away on residential trips? Who benefits? What are the challenges and risks? How can we ensure the benefits outweigh the risks?

What do we need to consider to ensure that a residential trip is a successful experience for children in Key Stage 1 and below, and their families?

The materials in this themed set of resources aim to inspire and build confidence in Early Years and Key Stage 1 practitioners who are interested in providing very young children with a residential experience. The materials provoke thinking around the pros, cons and practicalities of taking very young children away for one or more nights, describing the benefits and outlining some of the challenges. These resources offer practical guidance to help you successfully plan and evaluate residential experiences and identify the outcomes for young children; they also signpost other sources of useful information and opportunities to reflect on the implications for your own practice.

We would like to thank Gail Ryder Richardson from Outdoor Matters, the specialist early years outdoor learning and play consultancy, who led the Learning Away partnership schools in the development of these materials and wrote the majority of the resources on our behalf.

What constitutes a ‘residential trip’ in the early years?

A wide range of experiences come under the umbrella term ‘residential’. Put simply, a residential is any activity that involves young children sleeping away from home overnight. This activity may take place on or off the educational premises, and for the duration of the experience, adults who are not members of their close family will care for the child.

When thinking about a residential trip for very young children the excitement and benefits of new and different experiences have to be weighed against the additional anxiety or stress that children may feel in an unfamiliar environment, and the demands it places on adults – both staff and parents.

Pause for thought

How do you feel about the idea of taking very young children on a residential trip?

Early years Graphic