03 Aug Dynamic Kids in the Natural World
New Zealand is a country that is iconic for it’s beautiful scenery and outdoor lifestyle. Today we see opportunities for children to learn and grow with nature diminishing. With an endless array of electronics, the focus for children has moved from predominately outdoor play to indoor play.
As children we remember climbing trees, exploring paddocks, creating games with our friends using items found growing in our back yards. So we asked ourselves, as an education and care centre, what opportunities are we providing for our children to learn through natural play?
Our curriculum aims for childcare centres to encourage “Children to experience an environment where they develop working theories for making sense of the natural, social, physical, and material worlds.” (Te Whariki, Ministry of Education, 1996, p 90).
As part of our Strategic Plan we have started to bring a lot more natural resources into our childcare centre. Exploration with nature has become a big part of our every day curriculum. We are very fortunate to be just down the road from Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill, which provides us a haven to be able to explore and learn from. On our visits to the park we get to visit animals such as sheep, cows and ducks. We get to play in the trees and put some of our classroom projects into action in the natural world.
Our aim with our “reconnecting with nature” goal, is to allow children to develop a meaningful connection with the natural world, encouraging sustainability and promoting health. Natural playspaces allow children to consider how they can help look after the world, and present opportunities for participation, leadership, problem-solving and decision making, which all set the stage for a successful future.
“If we allow people to shape their own small worlds during childhood, then they will grow up knowing and feeling they can participate in shaping the big world tomorrow.” – Sobel (1990, p 12).
Come explore with us!