Children learn to become eco carers
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.