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Time in Nature

Exploring a new nature site is so exciting and stimulating for a child. There is so much to see, smell, touch and hear! We have noticed a keen eagerness among the playgroup children on their first visits to Nature Play Academy. They literally hit the ground running! Bounding out of the car (safely) and getting stuck into the tools or an activity quicker than you can say: "thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthelazydog.."

This is both refreshing and tricky to manage, for one it means we seem to be jumping from activity to activity really quickly - often without reaching the end of the original plan we set together five minutes prior 😜 and two their energy and zest for adventure drives us to lots of exciting places/discoveries....

Now I know that the attention span of our under 5's can be very short! I have however observed first hand children spending very long periods of time engaged in one particular activity or action - so I know it is possible, and will happen! When I say I want them to engage in one particular activity for an extended period I am not simply talking about sedentary actions or activities (even though we have some of these)  - we want children to respond to their interests and needs.. we understand children need to move and experience hands on learning!

Most of our nature activities involve - climbing, building dens, swinging and manipulating branches, mud, clay water or sand... Currently though it seems we are climbing five trees at once, swinging for seconds, building half a den and then doing it all again! While this is fun and what we need at the moment it is a point in time that we can pause, dissect and learn from - in order to be able to support children in this phase of their nature journey in the future!

Reflecting on children's eagerness to gobble up all of what nature has to offer in the space of - 'about an hour' has lead me to the realisation that - it is SO IMPORTANT   to PROVIDE children with REGULAR and EXTENDED periods of TIME in the SAME nature site!!!

I am sure by week five of our playgroups we will be looking at children who have an affinity with nature and place, they will know where the sand slippery dip or hammock tree is and how it can add to their play, they will be leading the expeditions to our destinations with ease, they will use the tools with purpose, observe the interdependence of the local wildlife and have an idea about where they fit in the space and they bring to nature! I am so very excited by these possibilities!

As we continue on this nature journey we are being mindful of our approach and developing our mentoring style! We are consciously making an effort to genuinely share the children's enthusiasm, we delight in their discoveries, give them the space to find new trails, tracks, landmarks, and plant/animal life. We follow their lead and aid them to see their ideas through to the end! We are seeing the talent and ability within each child and helping them bring it out into the world...