27 Educators across the South West on a pilgrimage to Nature Play WA
Engaging in outdoor learning sounds like an absolute no-brainer right? Certainly, we acknowledge that children innately create and pursue imaginative play in the great outdoors. We know however, that unstructured play has been lost amongst the desire to raise our children as great academics or sportspeople. The drive to have our children achieve has outweighed the value that unstructured play has on their health, both mental and physiological. On the banks of the beautiful Swan River, 27 Educators from the South West joined together to develop their skills to build upon the quality care they deliver.
Of course, we must negate risk and hazard. A take home message from the session with Nature Play WA was around identifying these two significant factors that dictate how we educate the children we care for. RISK BENEFIT ANALYSIS! How fabulous is this notion! What is the benefit to the identified risk? It is not to eliminate but to manage… Download your Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide here. After our morning session we were treated to a delightful lunch infused with native herbs and spices – keeping to the authentic natural experience of the day.
A tour of Unicare at UWA was next with on our agenda with a warm welcome from the children’s pet, Macca – the not-so-miniature pig. Macca was sourced from NSW where he was sold as a miniature pig – little did they know that Macca, if fed regularly, would grow to be a normal size pig! It was discussed with the children, that if they were to keep him small, he would need to be underfed, the children declared that he must eat! So eat he has, and grew he did. A wonderful learning lesson in animal husbandry.
Below is a link to a video of the amazing tour which opened our eyes to the incredible work that the Educators at Unicare accomplish. Remarkably, there was over 100 children in attendance, and when this figure was announced, we were in absolute disbelief! Each child was actively engaged in their surroundings, not a plastic-fantastic toys about (with exception) but only their imagination and loose parts to create!
To finish the day off, we work-shopped the way we would see outdoor spaces for children, improved. What we desire and what we need to do to achieve Engaging Outdoor Learning.