Chil­dren learn to be­come eco car­ers

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - GARY FAR­ROW

A so­cial en­ter­prise called Con­scious Kids has been op­er­at­ing in Auck­land for three years, and will soon be ar­riv­ing in Hamil­ton.

From July, the out­door holiday pro­gramme will give Waikato fam­i­lies a new way to teach their chil­dren in pri­mary schools to be in­de­pen­dently safety con­scious and get kids play­ing out­side the house again.

It will be held at the Hardy Cen­tre in Hamil­ton Gar­dens.

‘‘Our pro­gramme is chil­dled,’’ co-founder Maria Mar­i­otti said.

‘‘That means, apart from safety re­stric­tions, there are few in­struc­tions.’’

Staff will be on hand to su­per­vise and sup­port the chil­dren, but the idea is to let them have as much free­dom as pos­si­ble, within rea­son.

The or­gan­is­ers en­able chil- dren to fol­low their ‘readi­ness me­ter’, as­sess risks and make in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sions as to what they are go­ing to do in a given sit­u­a­tion.

Ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing mud slides, tree climb­ing and hut build­ing are en­cour­aged. Whit­tling sticks, scal­ing steep slopes and rest­ing in ham­mocks is also al­lowed. The pres­ence of adult su­per­vi­sors pro­vides the safety net, when and only when it is nec­es­sary.

‘‘Feel­ing safe is paramount for op­ti­mum learn­ing, dis­cov­ery and ex­plo­ration,’’ Mar­i­otti said.

‘‘Al­low­ing chil­dren to make their own de­ci­sions around risk­tak­ing en­ables them to be­come cu­ri­ous and won­der in their own time.’’

The Con­scious Kids holiday pro­gramme is also de­signed to al­low stu­dents to de­velop so­cial com­pe­tence in mixed age groups.

Younger chil­dren can learn from their more ma­ture peers with more ex­pe­ri­ence, and mean­while the older chil­dren can grow to con­sider the feel­ings and mind­sets of their younger peers more.

‘‘Chil­dren work to­gether to set rules within a frame­work of re­spect for each other and the en­vi­ron­ment,’’ Mar­i­otti said.

The pro­gramme fol­lows an international trend among western coun­tries around re­nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion, in­volv­ing adults and chil­dren alike.

The out­door holiday pro­gramme Con­scious Kids en­cour­ages chil­dren to as­sess their own risks and to learn, with su­per­vi­sion but min­i­mal in­ter­fer­ence from adults.

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