The emergency exit to outdoor learning...
This is brilliant, Juliet! Thank you for writing this manifesto.
I think one of the challenges is being comfortable with the risks children naturally take. If you are nervous around their ventures, the children will read your body language and curtail them or stop them altogether. Which, as you point out, restricts their learning about the world and how it operates. Great post. I think you just took a risk :-0
While i didn't think anyone could top Teacher Tom's post that won most influential post of 2011, I think he may have to hand this year over to you. Bravo!
Thanks for all your comments and kind words. I spent today at The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery in Fife. It was an amazing day for so many reasons that resonate with this post.Firstly the nursery has created its own curriculum - that's a brave step and arguably a dangerous one :) Second, on the risk front it was great to be in a setting where there were no helicopter staff hovering over children as they played - even when climbing up and down a wee cliff using a rope to assist. Very often I see staff in settings allow risky activities yet remain highly anxious and protective rather than stepping back and letting the children lead. Finally the nursery really believes in the value of free play so although there were clear routines and procedures in place, the children were able to get deeply absorbed in their play and had time to develop themes, projects and lines of thought. In most settings, many adults feel the need to intervene in this process.
Brilliant post Julliet! When we started Forest tots we felt like we were really living on the edge - so many people said things like "but isn't that dangerous" (letting kids play in a stream) or "what will you do in bad weather" (play outside of course!!). Risk aversion (with regards to kids) is so endemic in our culture that not taking any risks has become the norm. Stepping outside of that has been hard and we are continually proving ourselves. Next week we are hosting a rep from the local district council....let's hope we can persuade her we are taking good risks!
Wow. I think it would be a different world though, if "liability" didn't exist. I hadn't seen this video, I'm glad I have now. For myself, I have to admit that sometimes I build myself a little cage of thoughts and activities built around the safety of the kids. Yet the things they and I enjoy the most are outside of that little cage. We might just be coming out more often!
Loved this! How about something as simple as not being allowed to climb a slide? I let my preschoolers climb the slide, because it teaches them so much and builds their muscles. They know the rule that if someone wants to slide down, they respect the right of way. I find that the person who wants to slide down allows their classmate to finish climbing. I've been telling my Pre-Kers that when they go to kindergarten, they may be told that they are not allowed to climb the slide and to get ready for that different way of thinking. They understand.
Thanks for everyone's thought - good comments all round.
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