Outdoor Kinder is a new addition in 2015 and an integral part of Helen Paul’s program for its four year old groups. In addition to sessions on site, the 4yo children have a weekly excursion to nearby Dendy Park, where they will spend 3 hours exploring a designated area – with natural play scapes, wide open spaces and areas of potential interest - in self-directed, adult-supported learning.
Why have we set up an outdoor kinder program?
We want to provide a curriculum that will support children throughout their entire life, one that reflects our passion in regard to the benefits of being outdoors and engaging with nature. Through an intimate knowledge of and connection with the environment, children learn to respect and look after it. Among other benefits, active learning outdoors develops resilience, problem solving and social skills and supports physical and emotional wellbeing.
What would the children learn?
Using natural materials – stones, grasses, bark and foliage - in imaginative play such as making cubbies and shelters, gathering pretend ‘food’, rolling down slopes, climbing trees, and watching bugs and birds in their natural habitats. There is potential for learning simple bushcrafts, and deeper understandings of indigenous culture, including:
- How to respect and look after the environment,
- Knowledge of indigenous communities who lived on the land, local heritage,
- "Increased confidence, motivation, concentration, increased social, physical and language skills... increased social and imaginative play... and positive dispositions towards risk and challenge." (Sue Elliot, Australian Catholic University 2012)
- Problem solving skills are enhanced "...no other aspect of a child's life offers this degree of consistent but varied chances for critical thinking and problem solving." (Kahn and Kellert 2002)
What kind of activites will they be doing?
How safe is it?
- Outdoor kinders report very few incidents.
- Children would be taught how to safely manage risks.
- Risks are assessed realistically using a 'Risk Matrix' that covers both the likelihood of the danger being present and the severity of the risk.
- Often the most common activity to cause unease amongst parents is climbing trees and exploring natural bodies of water. Both these activities would be assessed specifically.
What about the weather?
The program would take place all year, in all but extreme weather conditions, with the protection of appropriate clothing.