Place a child in a natural environment and the learning is limitless. Not only do outdoor spaces extend physical development, they can directly contribute to a child’s language and cognitive development.
Roslyn Kindergarten are an Enviroschool, where the philosophy of connecting with nature contributes to the establishment of lifelong skills such as responsibility, understanding, empathy and self-esteem.
Recently, the kindergarten’s eight eldest children, accompanied by a teacher and parent, have travelled by the Lollipops van to RKA’s General Manager’s Pahiatua Track home for bush trips.
Thanks to extensive preplanning, a previous site visit, risk assessment, and health and safety considerations, most of the equipment and learning resources are already stored on the property.
Using identity sheets to learn about flora and fauna, the children become more confident amongst the big tall pine tree forest and undulating paths that lead to a creek bed. Through free play learning, children ‘work’ together to create designated areas for digging and climbing.
This problem solving is also reflected in how they use what is readily available. For example, a fallen log becomes a horse, sticks become digging tools, long grass provides the perfect place for a bear hunt, and pinecones make ideal flower vases.
The initial trip introduced the children on how to move and safely play in a new environment. As part of their natural science exploration, they became familiar with the paths and wildlife, and discussed the life cycle of trees. Different materials and textures also created new and exciting sensory experiences; from the crunching of leaves underfoot, to listening to the sound of the wind whistling through the trees.
The second trip provides those who have been before a chance to lead their peers, extend their communication skills, and build self-esteem. Taking responsibility for themselves and for others includes using their whole bodies to climb, determining the best way up a hill or over a log, helping each other, and asking for help when needed. Through shared experiences, calculated risk taking, and a sense of accomplishment, the children also learn the important value of trust.
Our region offers close proximity to parks, and the Manawatu River and Gorge. Even your backyard can offer similar learning opportunities. Under your guidance, let your children take risks as they discover more about the world in which they live. The Palmy Dirty 30 challenge sheet offers some great ideas to get you started.
Roslyn Kindergarten would like to extend their bush trips year round. They are now on the look out for sponsorship to purchase a van or van to hire so that more young children have the opportunity to explore the great outdoors.