Young­sters ex­plore the nat­u­ral world

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK -

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 is 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 self­es­teem.

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, 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 the 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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Chil­dren on a Ruahine Kin­der­garten bush trip im­pro­vise in the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

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